For the safety of our clients and staff, and as required by law, all Ettinger Law Firm offices are closed until we are permitted to reopen.

Please be assured that all staff is currently working remotely and are available to you by email or phone.

All staff will be checking their phone and email messages daily.*

Please call our Director of Client Relations, Pattie Brown, at 1-800-500-2525 ext. 117 or email Pattie at if you need any further assistance.

* You can also use this link to schedule a phone consultation with one of our attorneys.

Rights to Life Insurance Policies and Retirement Accounts

There are many estate planning tools that should be considered when writing a will. While the obvious includable provisions are for assets and property distribution, you should also consider how you want your life insurance policy distributed as well as any retirement benefit accounts. The policies you have subscribed to and pay premiums on will administer a life insurance policy or benefits as you have provided, however, many people forget to amend these policies when they go through events such as a divorce or if they lose a loved one.


Life Insurance Policies

Failing to update life insurance policies can end up benefitting a party you no longer intend to provide for, such as a former spouse who has since remarried, or a family member or friend you have been estranged from. Thus, it is certainly a good practice to amend and update your policy after a major event or to make sure it aligns with your wishes every few years. Making reference to the life insurance policy and the intended beneficiary in your will just goes to further support your claim to show whom you wish to receive the proceeds of policy.


Retirement Benefits Accounts

If a state has community property laws, retirement benefits may or may not be includible if you divorce your spouse. However, New York is a marital property state, meaning that all marital assets acquired during the marriage, are subject to an equitable division. An equitable division is viewed by the courts as a fair division, which is not always an equal division. Sometimes those benefits include entitlement to a portion of the former spouse’s pension benefits or retirement benefits.
New York views any pension benefits received during a marriage to be subject to equitable distribution and calculates the amount by providing half of the interest times the number of years married divided by total service credit at time of retirement. Thus, you may not be able to change the beneficiaries completely of retirement accounts, you will be able to rename someone new as a beneficiary once proceedings are finalized, which would immediately vest and a new spouse would be able to receive pension benefits as well.

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