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April 19, 2009

Spousal Consent

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Definition

The (usually) written consent provided by the spouse of a retirement account owner, for the retirement account owner to take certain actions with his retirement account such as:
  • Naming someone other than, or in addition to, his spouse as the primary beneficiary of his qualified plan or ERISA retirement account
  • Naming someone other than, or in addition to, his spouse as the primary beneficiary of his IRA or non-ERISA 403(b) account and he resides in a community or marital property state
  • Making certain (non required) distributions from a pension plan, or a non-pension qualified plan that is subject to the REA Safe Harbor provisions
  • Taking loans from a pension plan or a non-pension qualified plan that is subject to the REA Safe Harbor provisions
  • Making certain distribution elections for his pension plan account, or a non-pension qualified plan account that is subject to the REA Safe Harbor provisions
Referring Cite
IRC  § 417, Treas. Regs §§. 1.411(a) and 1.417(e). ERISA, State law, the governing plan document
Additional Helpful Information
  • Spousal consent may need to be witnessed by a notary public or a plan representative in order to be valid
  • In some cases, there are limitations on the time period that spousal consent can be obtained, before the application action is taken. For instance, spousal consent for a loan must not be obtained more than 90-days before the loan is secured.
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