Little Rock, AR asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Arkansas

Q: Wife not beneficiary on husbands ESOP, can she challenge it?

My mother isn't listed as a beneficiary on my deceased father's ESOP, as stated by the company. Before he passed he told her that she was over everything. The company has not been very straightforward with us and she wants to try to challenge the beneficiary designation.Is there a certain type of lawyer she would need to do this? What steps can she take?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Dustin A. Duke
Dustin A. Duke
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Licensed in Arkansas

A: More information is needed in order to fully answer your question. However, if there is no beneficiary listed on the account, and the company has no policy to the contrary, then the assets would go into your father's probate estate and would need to be probated before they can be distributed to your father's heirs and your mother (assuming she is his surviving spouse). It would be helpful for you to speak with an attorney with experience in probate and estate planning.

Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN

A: You need a very competent attorney to examine the ESOP (contract), the beneficiary designation, and determine possible litigation strategies. The insurance company knows how tough this is, including deciding what Court in what State or Federal District to file suit. Most likely you will have to file suit twice before acquiring jurisdiction over the Plan's Administrator, which might exclude jurisdiction over the present beneficiaries. Hopefully the corpus amount justifies this much work.

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