Death After Signing Prenuptial Agreement Waiver of Spousal Pension Benefits

In Hurwitz v. Sher, 982 F2d 778 (2d Cir. 1992), two people contemplating marriage executed a prenuptial agreement in which each waived his/her respective rights in the other's property. Having named his son as the beneficiary of his pension, the husband died nine months after they were married. The court held that the prenuptial agreement was not an effective waiver of spousal benefits under the pension plan because it did not conform to the specific waiver requirements of the Retirement Equity Act of 1984 (REA), and that the survivor benefit was required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, to be paid to the surviving spouse regardless of the participant's designation of the son as beneficiary.