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POWER OF ATTORNEY CAN CHANGE RETIREMENT PLAN BENEFICIARY

POWER OF ATTORNEY CAN CHANGE RETIREMENT PLAN BENEFICIARY. In a case decided on December 28, 2009, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the principal’s Power of Attorney granting the agent the power to engage in retirement plan transactions authorized his agent to change the beneficiary of the principal’s retirement plan. (IN RE: ESTATE OF RONALD SLOMSKI v.THE THERMOCLAD COMPANY, et.al.J-68A-2009; J-68B-2009, DECEMBER 28, 2009). The principal in Slomski named his mother as agent in his power of attorney. Sixteen days before the death of the principal, the agent changed the beneficiaries of principal’s retirement account from his children to the principal’s siblings. The PA Supreme Court reversed the PA Superior Court noting that a principal can give authority to an agent to engage in retirement plan transactions by including the simple language “to engage in retirement plan transactions” in the power of Attorney (20 Pa.C.S. § 5602(a)(18)). 20 Pa.C.S. § 5603(q) provides that a power to “engage in retirement plan transactions” shall include, inter. alia., the power to exercise all powers with respect to retirement plans that the principal could if present. Since the principal in Slomski retained the right to change the beneficiaries of his retirement plan, the agent named in his power of attorney held the same power.

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