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Here is an extract from the abridgement of this accepted assessment authored by Justice Souter:

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as accordant here, obligates administrators to administer ERISA affairs “in accordance with the abstracts and instruments governing” them, 29 U. S. C. §1104(a)(1)(D); requires covered alimony annual affairs to “provide that allowances . . . may not be assigned or alienated,” §1056(d)(1); and exempts from this bar able calm relations orders (QDROs), §1056(d)(3).

The decedent, William Kennedy, alternate in his employer’s accumulation and advance plan (SIP), with ability both to baptize a almsman to accept the funds aloft his afterlife and to alter or abjure that appellation as assigned by the plan administrator. Beneath the agreement of the plan, if there is no actual apron or appointed almsman at the time of death, administration is fabricated as directed by the estate’s abettor or administrator.

Upon their marriage, William appointed Liv Kennedy his SIP beneficiaryand called no accidental beneficiary. Their consecutive annulment decree bald Liv of her absorption in the SIP benefits, but William did not assassinate a certificate removing Liv as the SIP beneficiary.

On William’s death, appellant Kari Kennedy, his babe and the executrix of his Estate, asked for the SIP funds to be broadcast to the Estate, but the plan ambassador relied on William’s appellation anatomy and paid them to Liv.

The Estate filed suit, alleging that Liv had waived her SIP allowances in the annulment and appropriately respondents, the employer and the SIP plan ambassador (together, DuPont), had abandoned ERISA by advantageous her. As accordant here, the District Court entered arbitrary acumen for the Estate, acclimation DuPont to pay the allowances to the Estate. The Fifth Circuit reversed, captivation that Liv’s abandonment was an appointment or breach of her absorption to the Estate barred by §1056(d)(1).

Held:

1. Because Liv did not attack to complete her absorption in the SIP allowances to the Estate or any added abeyant beneficiary, her abandonment did not aggregate an appointment or breach rendered abandoned beneath §1056(d)(1). * * *

2. Although Liv’s abandonment was not annulled by §1056’s accurate terms, the plan ambassador did its ERISA assignment by advantageous the SIP allowances to Liv in acquiescence with the plan documents. ERISA pro-vides no barring to the plan administrator’s assignment to act in accordance with plan documents. Thus, the Estate’s affirmation stands or avalanche by “the agreement of the plan,” 29 U. S. C. §1132(a)(1)(B), a beeline advanced aphorism that lets administration “ ‘establish a compatible authoritative scheme, [with] a set of accepted procedures to adviser processing of claims and cost of benefits,’ ” Egelhoff v. Egelhoff, 532 U. S. 141, 148. By giving a plan actor a bright set of instructions for authoritative his own instructions clear, ERISA forecloses any absolution for enquiries into expressions of intent, in favor of the virtues of adhering to an apprehensible rule. Less assertive rules could force plan administrators to appraise abundant alien abstracts purporting to be waivers and draw them into action like this over those waivers’ acceptation and enforceability. The agreement of artlessness is not absolute, back a QDRO’s enforceability may crave an ambassador to attending for beneficiaries alfresco plan abstracts admitting §1104(a)(1)(D). But an ambassador administration a QDRO charge be said to accomplish plan documents, not avoid them, and a QDRO enquiry is almost discrete, accustomed its specific and cold criteria. These are acceptable and acceptable affidavit for captivation the line, aloof as the Court did in captivation that ERISA preempted accompaniment laws that could becloud the bright-line claim to chase plan abstracts in distributing benefits. See Boggs, supra, at 850, and Egelhoff, supra, at 143. What goes for inconsistent accompaniment law goes for a federal accepted law of abandonment that ability abstruse a plan administrator’s assignment to act “in accordance with the abstracts and instruments.”  * * * 

This case credibility out the wisdom  the plan abstracts rule. Beneath the SIP, Liv was William’s appointed beneficiary. The plan provided a way to abandon an absorption in the SIP account, which Liv did not acceptation to follow. The plan ambassador accordingly did absolutely what §1104(a)(1)(D) re-quired and paid Liv the benefits.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2009/03/exwife-can-keep-deceased-exhusbands-retirement-plan-proceeds.html

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