have a beneficary ..
My step sons biogical dad was killed in a coal mining accident.my son is sole beneficary since his dad was not remarried and is the only son. The 401k company sent my son a lettre stating there was no beneficary listed.All of a sudden the mine company came up with a beneficary.I thought the 401k is not connect to the mining company This seems kind of strange a beneficary name showed up.what do you think of this
another company administers the 401(k) plan, but the company is sometimes the contact for the plan
when you say that your step-son is the sole beneficiary, you mean he is the sole heir of the Estate
whether or not step-son is the beneficiary of the 401(k) is another matter
the father could have named anyone he wanted to be the beneficiary
i have experience where change of beneficiary forms are found later
i am doing one right now with GE
they found another beneficiary form way after the initial contact with the company
only if you think the form is forged or otherwise improper can you do anything
I strongly disagree with my colleague's answer that there is nothing you can do unless you suspect wrongdoing.
Companies often change 401K providers, or they get changed because of mergers or acquisitions in the coal industry. Happens all the time. Sometimes the paperwork gets screwed up. It is possible to get to the bottom of the issue and get it straightened out ... not always, but often.
I don't want to insult you, but you don't write very well and you are going to need someone accustomed to dealing with this sort of thing to help get it figured out. Sometimes a financial advisor can help; probate and estate lawyers regularly deal with this type of problem. Or an accountant.
It is possible that the mining company had a 401K and the miner executed a beneficiary designation; then the 401K was moved and the miner could have--but did not--execute a new beneficiary designation. In the case, there is a legitimate legal question about whether the new 401K is controlled by the original beneficiary designation.
And it may not matter as much as you think. If your step-son's biological father was single and died without a Will, the 401K should be payable to his estate under federal ERISA law; and your son as the sole next of kin would inherit under the Ohio statute of descent and distribution.
If you wish, we can help you with all this. My mother was a coal miner's daughter whose father was killed in a slate fall, so I've some sympathy for your problem. More importantly, although I've been practicing estate law for 20 years, as a young lawyer I worked several years with miner's claims in Ohio and West Virginia. Feel free to contact us through AVVO or by phone in Columbus at 488.7878.
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