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How Does a Survivor Benefit Election Affect the Division of Marital Assets in a Divorce?

In some Georgia divorce cases, particularly where the couple has been married for a significant period of time, one or both spouses may already be retired. If one spouse receives pension benefits, it may be that he has executed a survivor benefit election, meaning that that the surviving spouse would be able to continue collecting a benefit from his pension after his death. In the vast majority of cases, once a spouse has made a survivor benefit election and retired, his election is irrevocable, in that it cannot be changed. However, you should check with the plan administrator of the pension in order to ensure that the election is definitely irrevocable. If this is the case, then that lifetime benefit should be taken into account, at least to some degree, in the division of marital property in the parties’ divorce.

Although the exact value of the survivor benefit is somewhat uncertain, there is a way to place a value on it for the purposes of property division. Using life expectancy tables, an appraiser could estimate the date of the husband’s death, as well as the wife’s death, and roughly determine the value of the benefits that the wife would receive under the survivor benefit election, adjusting for present value using interest rates. The value of this benefit then can be included in total amount of marital assets for division in the parties’ divorce.

Atlanta property division can be difficult, particularly when questions arise about the survivor benefit election and its impact on the division of marital property. A Georgia divorce lawyer can make all the difference in giving you the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about your divorce and property division.

Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.

Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.