The parties divorced.  Each party kept their own retirement assets.  Each waived an interest of any kind in the other’s retirement assets. 

Ex-husband died after the divorce.  He never executed a document changing the ex-wife as the beneficiary to his 401(k) account.

The Executor for ex-husband informed Fidelity Brokerage Service that the 401(k) account should pass to the decedent’s estate.  It should not pass to ex-wife.  The plan administrator determined that the estate was the proper beneficiary of the 401(k) account.  The 401(k) funds were put in a separate account for the benefit of the estate.

Ex wife filed a petition to be named the beneficiary of the 401k account.  The trial court entered judgment in favor of the executor and against decedent’s ex-wife.   She appealed.

The Appellate Court agreed with the Trial Court. There was broad waiver language in the divorce decree.  It stated that each party was forever relinquishing all property rights and claims which each has or may hereafter have against the property of the other.   It unequivocally encompassed all property rights of any nature.   Including the beneficial property interest in the decedent’s 401(k) account.

The waiver language of the divorce decree terminated ex-wife’s interest in the 401(k) account proceeds.  This was independent of ERISA or the Trusts and Dissolutions of Marriage Act

Hebert v. Cunningham, 2018 IL App (1st) 172135 (December 28, 2018).