US Supreme Court Briefs


No. 99-1529IN THESupreme Court of the United StatesDONNA RAE EGELHOFF,Petitioner,v.SAMANTHA EGELHOFF, A Minor, By and Through HerNatural Parent Kate Breiner, and DAVID EGELHOFF,Respondents.On Writ of Certiorarito the Supreme Court of WashingtonBRIEF FOR RESPONDENTSERIK S. JAFFEERIK S. JAFFE, P.C.5101 34th St., N.W.Washington, DC 20008(202) 237-8165MICHAEL W. JORDAN2201 North 30th St.Tacoma, WA 98403(253) 627-4040THOMAS C. GOLDSTEIN(Counsel of Record)AMY HOWETHOMAS C. GOLDSTEIN, P.C.4607 Asbury Pl., N.W.Washington, DC 20016(202) 237-7543Counsel for RespondentsSeptember 18, 2000Whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq., preempts a Washing-ton state domestic relations law regarding the consequences ofdivorce on the disposition of nonprobate assets, RCW11.07.010(3)(a), notwithstanding that such law merely estab-lishes a default rule regarding interpretation of spousal bene-ficiary designations that can be avoided with no adverse con-sequence, provides a claim only against the divorced spouseand not any ERISA plan, can and will be implementedthrough a qualified domestic relations order when final judg-ment is eventually entered, and imposes no burden on planadministration?

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TABLE OF CONTENTS PagesQUESTION PRESENTED.......................................................i TABLE OF CONTENTS.......................................................iiTABLE OF AUTHORITIES ...................................................iv BRIEF FOR RESPONDENTS .................................................. 1 OPINIONS BELOW.......................................................... 1 JURISDICTION............................................................ 1 STATUTES INVOLVED....................................................... 2 STATEMENT............................................................... 2 SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT..................................................... 8 ARGUMENT............................................................... 11 I. THE JUDGMENT SHOULD BE AFFIRMED ONSEVERAL GROUNDS NOT ADDRESSED BY PETITIONER. ........................................................... 11A. RCW 11.07.010 Allows Plans To Opt Out and Thus Does Not Impose A Substantial Burden. ................................................................11B. The Final Judgments In This Case Will Run Only Against Donna, Not Against The Plans. .................................................................14C. The Final Orders in This Case Can Be QDROs That Are Fully Immune from Preemption. ............................................................16II. PETITIONER'S ASSERTED BASES FOR PREEMPTION ARE ERRONEOUS.......................................................... 19A. A Strong Presumption Against Preemption Applies In This Case. ..................................................19

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B. RCW 11.07.010 Neither Interferes With The Uniform Administration of ERISA Plans Nor "Binds" Plan Administrators To Impermissible Choices. .................................................31 C. Application Of RCW 11.07.010 Does Not Conflict With ERISA Provisions Regarding Beneficiaries and The Alienation Of Benefits. ................................................39 D. RCW 11.07.010 Does Not Conflict With Administrators' Fiduciary Duty To Follow Plan Terms..............................................................45 E. The Judgment Should Independently Be Affirmed On The Basis Of Federal Common Law..............................................................49 CONCLUSION..............................................................50

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TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Pages Cases Addison v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 5 F. Supp. 2d 392 (W.D. Va. 1998).................................................... 27 Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Wadsworth, 689 P.2d 46 (Wash. 1984) .......................................................... 50 Allessi v. Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., 451 U.S. 504 (1981) ................................................................ 32 Boggs v. Boggs, 520 U.S. 833 (1997) ................................passim Brandon v. Travelers Ins. Co., 18 F.3d 1321 (CA5 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1081 (1995) ............................. 49 California Div. of Labor Standards Enforcement v. Dillingham Constr., N.A., 519 U.S. 316 (1997)...................... 12, 20 Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co. v. Cole, 821 F. Supp. 193 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) ................................................... 27 Curtis v. Prudential Ins. Co., 839 F. Supp. 491 (E.D. Mich. 1993) ..................................................... 27 DeBuono v. NYSA-ILA Med. & Clinical Servs. Fund, 520 U.S. 806 (1997).............................................. 20 Emard v. Hughes Aircraft Co., 153 F.3d 949 (CA9 1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1122 (1999) ............................. 44 Equitable Life Assur. Soc'y v. Crysler, 66 F.3d 944 (CA8 1995)............................................................. 44 FMC Corp. v. Holliday, 498 U.S. 52 (1990) ............................. 32 Fort Halifax Packing Co. v. Coyne, 482 U.S. 1 (1987) .............................................................passim Guidry v. Sheet Metal Workers Nat'l Pension Fund, 493 U.S. 365 (1990) ................................................... 43

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Harper v. Virginia Dep't of Tax., 509 U.S. 86 (1993) ................................................................ 25 Hisquierdo v. Hisquierdo, 439 U.S. 572 (1979) ......................... 20 Leonard v. Spokane, 897 P.2d 358 (Wash. 1995).......................... 15 Mackey v. Lanier Collection Agency & Service, Inc., 486 U.S. 825 (1988)...................................... 17, 34, 43 Manning v. Hayes, 212 F.3d 866 (CA5 2000).............................. 48 McKinnon v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ala., 935 F.2d 1187 (CA11 1991) ............................................. 43 McKinnon v. Teachers Ins. & Annuity Ass'n, No. 89-C-3363, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4568 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 26, 1989).................................................... 30 Mendez-Bellido v. Board of Trustees of Div. 1181, A.T.U., 709 F. Supp. 329 (E.D.N.Y. 1989) .............................. 27 Minnick v. California Dep't of Corrections, 452 U.S. 105 (1981) .................................................... 1, 48 New Orleans Elec. Pension Fund v. Knight, 779 F. Supp. 845 (E.D. La. 1991) ............................................. 27 New Orleans Elec. Pension Fund v. Newman, 784 F. Supp. 1233 (E.D. La. 1992).......................................... 27 New York State Conf. of Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans v. Travelers Ins. Co., 514 U.S. 646 (1995) ...................passim O'Melveny & Myers v. FDIC, 512 U.S. 79 (1994).................. 29, 33, 49 Patterson v. Shumate, 504 U.S. 753 (1992).............................. 42 Pegram v. Herdrich, -- U.S. --, 120 S. Ct. 2143 (2000) ................................................................ 33 Perry v. Strawbridge, 108 S.W. 641 (Mo. 1908).......................... 27 Pope v. Atlantic Coast Line R.R. Co., 345 U.S. 379 (1953) ................................................................. 2 Price v. Hitaffer, 165 A. 470 (Md. 1933) .............................. 27

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Republic Natural Gas Co. v. Oklahoma, 334 U.S. 62 (1948) .............................................................. 2 Riggs v. Palmer, 22 N.E. 188 (N.Y. 1889)............................... 27 San Diego Gas & Elec. Co. v. San Diego, 450 U.S. 621 (1981) ............................................................. 2 Shaw v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 463 U.S. 85 (1983)....................... 32 Slocum v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 139 N.E. 816 (Mass. 1923)........................................................... 27 Stewart v. Thorpe Holding Co. Profit Sharing Plan, 207 F.3d 1143 (CA9 2000) .............................................. 18 United States v. Kimbell Foods, 440 U.S. 715 (1979) ................................................................ 29 United States v. Morrison, 120 S. Ct. 1740 (2000)...................... 25 Statutes 1999 Or. Laws 131...................................................... 30 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2507 ............................................. 22 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6111.2 ........................................... 23 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8504 ............................................. 30 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 8801-15.......................................... 27 215 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/231.1 ........................................ 26 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a)..................................................... 1 29 U.S.C. § 1002(1) .................................................... 2 29 U.S.C. § 1002(2) .................................................... 2 29 U.S.C. § 1002(8) ........................................... 10, 41, 43 29 U.S.C. § 1002(9) ................................................... 43 29 U.S.C. § 1024(b) ................................................... 48 29 U.S.C. § 1055(a).................................................... 35 29 U.S.C. § 1056(d) ................................................passim 29 U.S.C. § 1104(a)............................................ 10, 44, 45

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29 U.S.C. § 1144(a).................................................... 32 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(2)......................................... 32, 38, 46 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(4)................................................. 32 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(7)........................................... 1, 8, 16 40 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 532.6(6).......................................... 26 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/2-6........................................... 26 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/3-1(d) ....................................... 30 755 Ill. Comp. Stat.§ 5/4-7............................................ 22 760 Ill. Comp. Stat. 35/1 ............................................. 36 Ala. Code § 27-18-9.................................................... 26 Ala. Code § 43-7-5..................................................... 30 Ala. Code § 43-8-137................................................... 22 Ala. Code § 43-8-253................................................... 26 Alaska Stat. § 13.12.702(b)............................................ 30 Alaska Stat. § 13.12.803............................................... 26 Alaska Stat. § 13.12.804........................................... 22, 23 Alaska Stat. § 21.48.160............................................... 26 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2803............................................. 26 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2804......................................... 22, 23 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 20-1127............................................. 30 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 20-1264............................................. 26 Ark. Code Ann. § 23-83-115 ............................................ 26 Ark. Code Ann. § 28-10-105 ............................................ 30 Ark. Code Ann. § 28-11-204 ............................................ 26 Ark. Code Ann. § 28-25-109 ............................................ 22 Cal. Prob. Code § 224 ................................................. 30 Cal. Prob. Code § 250-52............................................... 26 Cal. Prob. Code § 6122 ................................................ 22 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-7-202 ........................................... 26

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Colo. Rev. Stat. § 15-11-712(5)........................................ 30 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 15-11-803 .......................................... 26 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 15-11-804 ...................................... 22, 23 Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-257c ........................................... 22 Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-440(d).......................................... 30 Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-447 ............................................ 26 D.C. Code Ann. § 19-320 ........................................... 26, 27 D.C. Code Ann. § 19-504 ............................................... 30 D.C. Code Ann. § 35-515(6)............................................. 26 Del. Code Ann. tit. 12, § 209 ......................................... 22 Del. Code Ann. tit. 12, § 2322 ........................................ 26 Del. Code Ann. tit. 12, § 704 ......................................... 30 Del. Code Ann. tit. 18, § 3118 ........................................ 26 Fla. Stat. § 627.564................................................... 26 Fla. Stat. § 732.507................................................... 22 Fla. Stat. § 732.601(4)................................................ 30 Fla. Stat. § 732.802................................................... 26 Ga. Code Ann. § 33-24-42............................................... 30 Ga. Code Ann. § 33-25-13............................................... 26 Ga. Code Ann. § 33-27-3(6) ............................................ 26 Ga. Code Ann. § 53-4-49................................................ 22 Ga. Code Ann. § 53-4-6................................................. 26 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 431-10D-213(6) ...................................... 26 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 560:2-702(b)......................................... 30 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 560:2-803 ........................................... 26 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 560:2-804 ....................................... 22, 23 Idaho Code § 15-2-508 ................................................. 22 Idaho Code § 15-2-613(c) .............................................. 30 Idaho Code § 15-2-803 ............................................. 26, 27

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Idaho Code § 41-2016................................................... 26 Ind. Code § 29-1-2-12.1................................................ 26 Ind. Code § 29-1-5-8................................................... 22 Ind. Code § 29-2-14-4.................................................. 30 Iowa Code § 509.2(6)................................................... 26 Iowa Code § 633.271 ................................................... 22 Iowa Code § 633.526 ................................................... 30 Iowa Code § 633.535 ................................................... 26 Kans. Stat. Ann. § 40-434(6)........................................... 26 Kans. Stat. Ann. § 58-710 ............................................. 30 Kans. Stat. Ann. § 59-513 ............................................. 26 Kans. Stat. Ann. § 59-610 ............................................. 22 Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 304.16-70(1) .................................... 26 Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 381.280 ..................................... 26, 27 Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 394.092 ......................................... 22 Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 397.1003 ........................................ 30 La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22:176(6) ....................................... 26 La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22:613(D) ....................................... 26 La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22:645........................................... 30 Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 190A, § 4 ......................................... 30 Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 191, § 9 .......................................... 22 Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-804 ............................. 30 Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 4-105 .................................. 22 Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 17-307........................................... 26 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 2619............................................. 26 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, § 2-805(E)................................ 30 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 18-A, § 2-508................................. 22 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 18-A, § 2-803................................. 26 Mich. Stat. Ann. § 27.12702 ........................................... 30

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Mich. Stat. Ann. § 27.12803 ........................................... 26 Mich. Stat. Ann. § 27.12807 ....................................... 22, 23 Minn. Stat. § 524.2-702(4)............................................. 30 Minn. Stat. § 524.2-803 ............................................... 26 Minn. Stat. § 524.2-804 ............................................... 22 Miss. Code Ann. § 91-1-25.............................................. 26 Miss. Code Ann. § 91-3-11.............................................. 30 Miss. Code Ann. § 91-5-33.............................................. 26 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 376.697(6)............................................ 26 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 461.051............................................... 23 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 471.040............................................... 30 Mo. Rev. Stat. § 474.420............................................... 22 Mont. Code Ann. § 33-20-1207(I) ....................................... 26 Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-712(2) ......................................... 30 Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-813............................................. 26 Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-814..................................... 22, 23, 37 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-24-4............................................. 30 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 31-5.4............................................... 22 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-58-140(6)......................................... 26 N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 31A-3 to -11.................................... 26, 27 N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-09.1-02 ........................................ 30 N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-10-03 .......................................... 26 N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-10-04 ...................................... 22, 23 N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 408:16(VI)...................................... 26 N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 551:13 ......................................... 22 N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 563:2 .......................................... 30 N.J. Stat. Ann. § 17B:27-17 ........................................... 26 N.J. Stat. Ann. § 3B:3-14 ............................................. 22 N.J. Stat. Ann. § 3B:6-5............................................... 30

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N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 3B:7-1 to 7-5....................................... 26 N.M. Stat. Ann. § 45-2-702 ............................................ 30 N.M. Stat. Ann. § 45-2-803 ........................................ 26, 27 N.M. Stat. Ann. § 45-2-804 ........................................ 22, 23 N.M. Stat. Ann. § 59A-21-17 ........................................... 26 N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 2-1.6(d)............................... 30 N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 5-1.4 ................................. 22 N.Y. Ins. Law § 3220 .................................................. 26 Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-124 .............................................. 30 Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2333 ............................................. 22 Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2354 ............................................. 26 Neb. Rev. Stat. § 44-1607(6)........................................... 26 Nev. Rev. Stat. § 133.115.............................................. 22 Nev. Rev. Stat. § 135.050.............................................. 30 Nev. Rev. Stat. § 688B.100............................................. 26 Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 41B.200-.420 ....................................... 26 Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 1339.63 ..................................... 23, 37 Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2105.19 ......................................... 27 Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2107.33 ......................................... 22 Okla. Stat. tit. 15, § 178............................................. 23 Okla. Stat. tit. 36, § 4102(6)......................................... 26 Okla. Stat. tit. 58, §1005............................................. 30 Okla. Stat. tit. 84, § 114............................................. 22 Okla. Stat. tit. 84, § 231............................................. 27 Or. Rev. Stat. § 112.315............................................... 22 Or. Rev. Stat. § 743.327(1) ........................................... 26 Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 112.455 to .555...................................... 27 P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 26, § 1408 ........................................ 26 R.I. Gen. Laws § 33-2-5................................................ 30

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R.I. Gen. Laws § 33-5-9.1.............................................. 22 R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 33-1.1-1 to -16 ..................................... 27 RCW 11.05.040....................................................... 6, 30 RCW 11.07.010.......................................................passim RCW 11.12.051.......................................................... 22 RCW 11.84.010-.900 .................................................... 27 RCW 11.96.070(2)(f) .................................................... 4 RCW 48.18.390....................................................... 6, 30 RCW 48.24.160.......................................................... 26 S.C. Code Ann. § 62-1-505.............................................. 30 S.C. Code Ann. § 62-2-507.............................................. 22 S.C. Code Ann. § 62-2-803.............................................. 27 S.D. Codified Laws § 29A-2-702 ........................................ 30 S.D. Codified Laws § 29A-2-803 ........................................ 27 S.D. Codified Laws § 29A-2-804 .................................... 22, 23 S.D. Codified Laws § 58-16-42 ......................................... 26 Tenn. Code Ann. § 31-1-106 ............................................ 27 Tenn. Code Ann. § 31-3-105 ............................................ 30 Tenn. Code Ann. § 32-1-202 ............................................ 22 Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-7-2305(a) ........................................ 26 Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 9.301-.302...................................... 23 Tex. Ins. Code Ann. art. 3.50(2)(6).................................... 26 Tex. Prob. Code Ann. § 41(D)........................................... 27 Tex. Prob. Code Ann. § 47(E)........................................... 30 Tex. Prob. Code Ann. § 69.............................................. 22 Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-7.5.............................................. 23 Utah Code Ann. § 31A-22-415............................................ 30 Utah Code Ann. § 75-2-702.............................................. 30 Utah Code Ann. § 75-2-803.............................................. 27

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Utah Code Ann. § 75-2-804.......................................... 22, 23 V.I. Code Ann. § 88(d)................................................. 30 Va. Code Ann. § 20-111.1 .............................................. 23 Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-305 .............................................. 23 Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-3330(1)........................................... 26 Va. Code Ann. § 55-401 to -415......................................... 27 Va. Code Ann. § 64.1-104.3 ............................................ 30 Va. Code Ann. § 64.1-59 ............................................... 22 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 3818.................................................. 26 Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 551(6)....................................... 27 Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 624 ......................................... 30 W. Va. Code § 33-14-14................................................. 26 W. Va. Code § 41-1-6................................................... 22 W. Va. Code § 42-4-2................................................... 27 W. Va. Code § 42-5-4................................................... 30 Wis. Stat. § 854.03(4)................................................. 30 Wis. Stat. § 854.14 ................................................... 27 Wis. Stat. § 854.15 ................................................... 23 Wis. Stat. § 854.15 ................................................... 22 Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-13-106............................................. 30 Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-14-101............................................. 27 Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-6-118.............................................. 22 Regulations 26 C.F.R. § 1.401(a)-13(c)(1)(ii)...................................... 41 Other Authorities 120 CONG. REC. 29933 (1974)............................................ 34 John H. Langbein, The Nonprobate Revolution and the Future of the Law of Succession, 97 HARV. L. REV. 1108 (1984) ....................................................... 22, 23

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Lawrence W. Waggoner, The Multiple-Marriage Society and Spousal Rights Under the Revised Uniform Probate Code, 76 IOWA L. REV. 223 (1991)............................... 23 Mark Davis, Note, Life Insurance Beneficiaries and Divorce, 65 TEX. L. REV. 635 (1987) ................................... 37 Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Manning v. Hayes, No. 00-265 (filed Aug. 16, 2000)........................................... 47 S. REP. NO. 98-575, 98 th Cong., 2d Sess. (1984), reprinted in 1984 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2547 ............................... 18, 21 Superior Court Judges Ass'n Educ. Comm., Benchbook Subcomm., Washington Judges Family Law Benchbook (2d ed. 1996)................................................. 3 UPC § 2-804 ....................................................... 23, 36 BRIEF FOR RESPONDENTSOPINIONS BELOWThe Washington Supreme Court's opinion (Pet. App. 1a-28a) is reported at 989 P.2d 80. The Washington Court ofAppeals' opinion (Pet. App. 29a-44a) is reported at 968 P.2d924. The Washington Superior Court's summary judgmentorders (Pet. App. 45a-48a) are not reported. JURISDICTIONFor the reasons described in respondents' brief in opposi-tion to certiorari, BIO 4-5, this Court lacks jurisdiction be-cause the decision of the Washington Supreme Court in theseconsolidated proceedings is not a "final judgment or decree"as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a). In particular, as we dis-cuss infra at 16-19, this Court's disposition of the federal is-sue presented may be substantially affected by whether thetrial courts on remand from the Washington Supreme Courtenter "qualified domestic relations orders" ("QDROs"),which are expressly immune from preemption under ERISA.29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(7). Petitioner is therefore wrong to state that this Court hasjurisdiction in this case because "nothing remains to be donebut the mechanical entry of judgment by the trial court." Pet.Br. 1 (citation omitted). The form and content of the remedyto be entered on remand are neither pre-determined nor "me-chanical" because they could take this case out of the realm ofpreemption entirely and, furthermore, easily could give rise tonew federal-law disputes over the form and effect of theQDROs. When proceedings on remand might impact federalissues, the judgment is not final and this Court lacks jurisdic-tion. See Minnick v. California Dep't of Corrections, 452U.S. 105, 120 (1981) (decision nonfinal because subsequentproceedings may "have a significant effect on the federal con-stitutional issues presented"); San Diego Gas & Elec. Co. v.

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San Diego, 450 U.S. 621, 632-33 (1981) (no finality in tak-ings context where courts have resolved only the right or theremedy, but not both).1 The Court therefore should dismissthis case for want of jurisdiction. STATUTES INVOLVED RCW 11.07.010 is reproduced as the appendix to thisbrief. STATEMENT a. Respondents Samantha and David Egelhoff ("the chil-dren") are the children of David Egelhoff ("David") and hisfirst wife, Kate Breiner. Petitioner Donna Rae Egelhoff("Donna") was David's second wife. David and Donna hadno children. While married to Donna, David participated in twoERISA-governed benefit plans through his employer, BoeingCorporation. He participated in an "employee pension plan,"29 U.S.C. § 1002(2), known as the Voluntary Investment Plan("VIP" or "pension plan"), which accumulated a total value ofapproximately $35,000 during his employment. He also re-ceived a life insurance policy qualified as an "employee wel-fare benefit plan," id. § 1002(1), which was administered byAetna Insurance Company and which provided an accidental-death benefit of $46,000. David and Donna divorced in the spring of 1994. Wash-ington community property law required that they divide alltheir assets between them. See Superior Court Judges Ass'n 1 See also Pope v. Atlantic Coast Line R.R. Co., 345 U.S. 379, 382 (1953)(finality rule avoids "decision on federal questions which, after later pro-ceedings, might subsequently prove to be unnecessary and irrelevant to acomplete disposition of the litigation"); Republic Natural Gas Co. v.Oklahoma, 334 U.S. 62, 69, 71 (1948) (no finality when basic right hasbeen decided, but remedy may be accomplished "in any one of threeways" and "the matters left open may generate additional federal ques-tions").

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Educ. Comm., Benchbook Subcomm., Washington JudgesFamily Law Benchbook 39 (2d ed. 1996). Divisible "prop-erty" in Washington includes the present value of pensionbenefits, which for a defined contribution plan, such asDavid's VIP, is the account balance. Id. 31. By contrast, acontingent life-insurance benefit is treated as an "expec-tancy," not included within divisible property. Id. David and Donna's jointly presented and court-approveddivorce decree sets forth "an equitable division" of theircommunity property, specifying the assets to be retained byeach. JA 22, 31-34. Donna was assigned ten different piecesof property, including a business, an IRA, and stock. Id. 34.David received, inter alia, the pension plan: "100% of hisBoeing retirement 401K and IRA." Id. 33. The contingentlife-insurance benefit, as a mere expectancy, was not includedin the property required to be divided and the rights to ittherefore remained with David. b. Eight weeks after the divorce, David was involved inan automobile accident and died intestate. Through meansnot specified in the record, but as is typical when death bene-fits are to be paid, the two plans obtained a copy of David'sdeath certificate. That standard-form state certificate identi-fies David's date of death and states that he has no survivingspouse. See Resp. Lodging, Exh. 1. Aetna, recognizing that Donna was divorced from David- expressing its "sincere sympathy" for her "ex-spouse'sdeath," JA 29 - paid the life insurance benefits to her. Re-garding David's VIP account balance, which automaticallyconverted to a death benefit, JA 39, Boeing agreed to awaitcourt determination of the proper recipient. Resp. Lodging,Exh. 2. c. Before this Court are two state-law actions, consoli-dated on appeal, regarding the proper disposition of the twodeath benefits. The suits are entirely between the childrenand Donna; the plans are not now and have never been parties

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and no claim is stated against them. The Washington Su-preme Court held, based on a state statute, that the childrenwere entitled to the value of both assets. The court also re-jected Donna's claim that the statute was preempted byERISA. 1. The children brought a state-law conversion suitagainst Donna for the value of the life-insurance benefit. JA 24. The children separately moved in the probate proceedingsregarding David's estate for a determination that they wereentitled to the pension benefits. Id. 20; see RCW 11.96.070(2)(f) (disposition of nonprobate assets may be de-termined in probate proceedings). 2. Donna contended that she was entitled to the benefitsas the designated beneficiary of the life insurance and pensionplans. The life-insurance beneficiary designation form is inthe record. It specifically inquires into David's marital statusand designates as the beneficiary "Donna R. Egelhoff Wife."Resp. Lodging, Exh. 3. The pension beneficiary designationform is not in the record. Boeing, which has appeared as anamicus and is financing this litigation on behalf of Donna, hasrefused to provide respondents' counsel with a copy of thedesignation form. Donna's counsel, in turn, have refused torequest the form from Boeing. Thus, although the partieshave stipulated that David named Donna as the beneficiary ofthe pension plan, it is not known whether, as on the insuranceform, he specified on the pension form "Donna R. EgelhoffWife." The children argued that Donna had waived any right tothe pension proceeds by agreeing to a divorce decree allocat-ing various assets to her and "100%" of the pension to David,and that Donna's divorce from David invalidated any priordesignation of her as beneficiary of David's benefits underRCW 11.07.010. That statute provides that upon divorce,unless the divorce decree otherwise specifies, a designation"that relates to the payment or transfer at death of the dece-dent's interest in a nonprobate asset in favor of or granting an

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interest or power to the decedent's former spouse is revoked."RCW 11.07.010(2)(a), (b)(i), (b)(ii). Nonprobate assets in-clude essentially all those that pass upon death through in-struments other than a will. Id. 11.07.010(5). The statutecreates a specific cause of action against an ex-spouse for theproceeds of wrongly acquired benefits. Id. 11.07.010(4)(a). The statute sets only a default rule. Any instrument gov-erning a nonprobate asset can avoid the statute by merelysaying so in the instrument itself or on any particular desig-nation. RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(i); JA 11. Such a statement inthe instrument or designation categorically exempts that non-probate asset from the rule. Id. In addition, the participantcan provide that the ex-spouse will remain the beneficiary.RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(i); JA 11. Finally, the statute does notaffect annuities or other benefits mandated by federal or statelaw or otherwise guaranteed by an instrument such as aQDRO. RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(ii), (iii). For instruments subject to the statute, entitlement to adeath benefit is determined according to the terms of the plan"as if the former spouse failed to survive the decedent."RCW 11.07.010(2)(a). In this case, neither of the plans is inthe record. In the Washington appellate courts, Boeing pro-vided respondents' counsel with a copy of the pension plan.Resp. Lodging, Exhs. 4 (1996 version of plan), 5 (plan docu-ment detailing pre-1996 amendments). But in this Court, ithas refused to provide a copy of the life insurance plan.Donna's counsel, again, have refused to request that Boeingprovide the plan. The record does contain "[a]n incomplete 'summary'" ofboth plans, Pet. App. 3a n.5 (state supreme court opinion), inthe form of "summary plan descriptions" ("SPDs"). Underthe pension SPD, if the designated "beneficiary is no longerliving," or if there is "an invalid beneficiary designation" orthe participant "ha[s] not designated a beneficiary on the ap-propriate form," benefits will be paid to the following alter-nate beneficiaries:

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1. To [the participant's] surviving spouse. 2. If there is no surviving spouse, to [the partici-pant's] children in equal shares. 3. To another relative designated by the VoluntaryInvestment Plan Committee or to [the partici-pant's] estate. JA 40. Thus, according to the pension SPD, because Davidhad no "surviving spouse" when he died, entitlement to thebenefits rested with respondents as David's "children." Unlike the pension SPD, the life insurance SPD does notinclude an alternate beneficiary scheme. 3. Donna argued that RCW 11.07.010 was preempted byERISA. Donna further argued that the divorce decree did notspecify that David would receive the pension asset upon deathand hence she did not waive her claim to it. 4. In summary orders, both trial courts held that Donnawas entitled to the pension and life-insurance proceeds. Pet.App. 46a, 48a. 5. The children appealed. The Washington Court of Ap-peals consolidated the two cases and reversed, holding that"ERISA does not preempt the state law in question and thatDonna was not entitled to the insurance proceeds or pensionfunds." Id. 30a. The court found the children entitled to thepension benefits as alternate beneficiaries under the SPD, Pet.App. 34a, and entitled to the life-insurance benefits because,absent an alternate beneficiary, David's estate became the le-gal beneficiary and the children are statutory heirs to his es-tate. Id. (citing RCW 11.05.040, 48.18.390). The court of appeals held that ERISA does not preemptRCW 11.07.010, relying on this Court's cases substantiallylimiting ERISA preemption in "areas traditionally left to stateregulation." Pet. App. 35a-36a, 40a-41a. The court of ap-peals found no substantial burden on plan administration be-cause RCW 11.07.010 "does not affect the administration of

7

plans; instead, it affects merely the ultimate ownership ofdistributed benefits." Id. 39a (citation omitted). The courtfurther found that Washington law required the plans to makeno factual inquiries beyond those already required by ERISAand allowed conflicting claims to benefits to be resolved bythe courts. Id. 40a & n.13. The court finally emphasized thatits holding only permitted the children "to look solely toDonna for the funds," id. 43a, and that any potential claimagainst the plans would have to be addressed in "a separateaction," id. 44a n.18. 6. Donna appealed. The Washington Supreme Court af-firmed respondents' entitlement to the value of the benefits,Pet. App. 28a, and remanded for further proceedings. The state supreme court first carefully considered thisCourt's ERISA preemption decisions, including its narrowingof the preemption doctrine since New York State Conferenceof Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans v. Travelers InsuranceCo., 514 U.S. 646 (1995), Pet. App. 13a, 18a, and the pre-sumption that ERISA does not supplant state laws in areastraditionally regulated by the states, id. 14a, 19a. The courtfound that presumption applicable because RCW 11.07.010 isan exercise of "Washington's sovereign interest in exercisingits traditional police powers in the area of domestic relationsand family law." Id. 15a; see also id. 19a ("RCW 11.07.010involves an area of domestic and family [law] that has longbeen the traditional domain of the states."). The presumption against preemption is not overcomehere, the court concluded, because RCW 11.07.010 "does notalter the nature of the plan itself, the administrator's fiduciaryduties, or the requirements for plan administration." Pet.App. 21a. Instead, when RCW 11.07.010 applies, it merely"bring[s] the [plan's] default distribution provisions into ef-fect." Id. The court also rejected Donna's claims that thestatute interfered with or burdened plan administration, andrejected any alleged conflict with ERISA's anti-alienationprovision. Id. 16a-17a, 22a & n.100, 24a, 26a.

8

d. On remand, the trial court in the pension proceedingsentered an order specifying that respondents were entitled tothe benefits. Resp. Lodging, Exh. 6. No order has yet beenentered in the life insurance proceedings. e. Donna petitioned this Court, which granted certiorari. SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT1. Petitioner has attacked an imagined version of Wash-ington law and speculative applications of that law that havelittle to do with this case. For three overarching reasons noteven addressed by petitioner, respondents' claims underWashington state law are not preempted. First, RCW 11.07.010 is strictly optional - any instrument governing anonprobate asset, including ERISA plans, can completely optout of the law. The statute expressly states that the divorce-revocation rule does not apply whenever "[t]he instrumentgoverning disposition of the nonprobate asset expressly pro-vides otherwise." RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(i); see also JA 11.In short, Washington law simply sets a default rule, whichcreates no cognizable burden on ERISA plans. Second, the cases under review, and any subsequent finaljudgments therein, are exclusively between Donna and thechildren, and do not involve or create rights against anyERISA plans. Whatever burdens on ERISA plans that peti-tioner may imagine arise from other portions of Washingtonlaw; the provision at issue in this case imposes no conceivableburden whatsoever on any ERISA plan. Third, when the abstract rights in this case are reduced toactual judgments, they can be in the form of qualified domes-tic relations orders ("QDROs"), which are expressly exemptfrom ERISA preemption. 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(7). Indeed,the initial order entered on remand regarding the pension pro-ceeds already satisfies the requirements of a QDRO. Anyconceivable dispute over the exempt status of the eventualorders is best taken up on remand and only by this Court afterthe entry of final orders in this case.

9

2. Petitioner's affirmative arguments are incorrect. a. This case represents a ideal example of where thisCourt's presumption against preemption of state law appliesat its fullest. The case involves the traditional state-law areaof family law and domestic relations, dealing as it does withthe consequences of divorce. Washington has a strong inter-est in seeing that the default consequences of divorce arecompatible with its community property regime and with thetreatment of all other devisable assets. The presumptionagainst preemption is confirmed rather than rebutted byERISA's QDRO provisions, which provide an unimpeachablesafe harbor for a certain class of orders that would otherwiseconflict with ERISA provisions, but that in no way imply pre-emption of all other domestic relations orders that do not soconflict. b. Numerous other longstanding state laws dealing withbeneficiary designations corroborate that this area is one oftraditional state, not federal, law. In particular, state lawsconcerning revocation of benefits for "slayers" who kill theirspouses, state simultaneous death statutes, and state law gov-erning the content of such common beneficiary terms asspouse, children, death, and divorce, all show sweeping andimportant state involvement in beneficiary determinations. c. Nor does RCW 11.07.010 interfere with the uniformadministration of ERISA plans or impermissibly "bind" planadministrators to certain choices. The numerous exceptionsto ERISA preemption illustrate that uniformity is only onegoal among the many animating ERISA. Uniformity routinelyhas yielded to other important goals and should not be giventalismanic weight, especially where there is no danger of de-terring the adoption or maintenance of benefit plans. Fur-thermore, RCW 11.07.010 does not create an impermissibleburden on plans by requiring them to determine the maritalstatus of plan participants. Two ERISA provisions alreadyrequire the identical inquiry, demonstrating both that Wash-ington law imposes no new administrative requirement and

10

also that Congress concluded that an inquiry into participants'marital status would not unduly burden ERISA plans. Norwill ERISA plans be impermissibly burdened by multiplestate laws or the risk of double liability. The variation in statelaw is minor at best, the applicable law can be readily deter-mined, and plans can always specify which law to apply oropt out entirely. Finally, in any instance of conflictingclaims, plans can always leave resolution of the dispute to theparties and the courts without themselves having to bear thedecisional burden. d. Petitioner is also wrong in her claim that RCW 11.07.010 conflicts with various ERISA provisions imposingduties on plans vis--vis beneficiaries and, relatedly, consti-tutes a prohibited "alienation" of benefits from a beneficiaryto a third party. RCW 11.07.010 provides that entitlement tobenefits is determined under the provisions of the plan, andconsequently any alternate recipient is also a beneficiary un-der the plan and under ERISA. ERISA defines "beneficiary"as "a person designated by a participant, or by the terms of anemployee benefit plan, who is or may become entitled to abenefit thereunder." 29 U.S.C. § 1002(8) (emphasis added).Here, the children plainly fit that definition because the pen-sion plan expressly provides that they "may become entitled"to benefits in a variety of circumstances - i.e., if there is nosurviving spouse and the named beneficiary predeceases theparticipant, or the beneficiary designation is "invalid," or theparticipant fails to make a designation at all. JA 40. For thesame reason, RCW 11.07.010 does not conflict with ERISA's"anti-alienation" provision: There is no alienation in thiscase, and the benefits are paid out according to the terms ofthe plan, not to any third-party assignee. e. Nor does RCW 11.07.010 conflict with the duty ofplan administrators to abide by the terms of the plan. 29U.S.C. § 1104(a)(1)(D). State law does not require anythingin conflict with the plan, and even if it did, only ERISA'sprovisions themselves, and not the ERISA plans, can preempt

11

state law. Congress has not delegated such preemptiveauthority to plans that they may write their way out of all statelaws merely by saying so in an ERISA plan. f. Even were this Court to find that ERISA preemptedstate law in this area, because ERISA does not address thisissue at all, courts will inevitably have to choose or create lawto fill those gaps. If this Court were to favor application offederal law, and hence the creation of a federal common-lawrule, the net result should be the same: Any federal commonlaw should look to state law for its content and hence adoptstate statutes governing the impact of divorce on beneficiarydesignations in those states having such statutes or compara-ble common-law rules. g. Finally, petitioner has not overcome the presumptionagainst preemption because she has not produced documentsessential to her claims - the life-insurance plan and the pen-sion plan designation form - which are not in the record andwhich her counsel refuse to request from Boeing. ARGUMENT I. THE JUDGMENT SHOULD BE AFFIRMED ON SEVERALGROUNDS NOT ADDRESSED BY PETITIONER. A. RCW 11.07.010 Allows Plans To Opt Out and ThusDoes Not Impose A Substantial Burden. Petitioner's argument fundamentally rests on the assertionthat RCW 11.07.010 will interfere with ERISA plan admini-stration because plans must determine the marital status oftheir participants and because the states disparately treatspousal designations upon divorce. Those burdens are imagi-nary for a variety of reasons discussed below, but there is oneespecially glaring flaw in petitioner's argument: RCW 11.07.010 sets only a default rule, from which plans can com-pletely opt out at their own discretion. The divorce-revocation rule does not apply whenever "[t]he instrument

12

governing disposition of the nonprobate asset expressly pro-vides otherwise." RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(i); see also JA 11. Having to express a decision to opt out is not a cognizableburden. The pension plan SPD already states that "documentssuch as divorce decrees" cannot change a designation, JA 40(emphasis added), and the SPD need only further specify thatthe same rule applies to statutes regulating designation upondivorce. Including such a statement is no burden at all be-cause ERISA plans are regularly amended in numerous re-spects. E.g., Resp. Lodging, Exh. 4, at 14-1 (pension planmay be amended "at any time and for any reason"). For ex-ample, between 1994 and 1996, the pension plan at issue inthis case was amended in seven different respects. Resp.Lodging, Exh. 5, at 3. This minor effort required of the plan to express its choiceto avoid Washington's default approach is trivial compared tothe cost for avoiding the preferred state options in Travelersor California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement v.Dillingham Construction, N.A., 519 U.S. 316 (1997). InTravelers, a plan was free to insure through someone otherthan the Blues, but would pay a considerable premium if itexercised that choice. 514 U.S. at 650, 652. And in Dilling-ham, the apprenticeship programs could likewise ignore Cali-fornia's requirements, but only at the cost of their beneficiar-ies not qualifying for apprentice wages on certain projects.519 U.S. at 319, 332. Yet in both of those cases, this Courtfound that state law merely created an incentive to choose apreferred path, not an impermissible burden on plans. Trav-elers, 514 U.S. at 659-60; Dillingham, 519 U.S. at 332. Inthis case, by contrast, there is no adverse consequence to anyplan or beneficiary that chooses to avoid RCW 11.07.010. Any incidental burden on plans is also far overborne bythe state's substantial interest in setting a default rule. Asnoted below, Washington applies the same rule of revocationupon divorce to all probate and nonprobate assets. See infraat 22-23. Citizens of Washington are therefore able to man-

13

age their affairs with a clear understanding that past probateand nonprobate designations of former spouses are ineffec-tive. Indeed, such uniformity was a principal purpose of ex-tending the divorce-revocation rule from wills to nonprobateassets. See infra at 22-23. When this uniform rule will notapply - as when an ERISA plan would avoid the revocationrule - it is essential that Washington citizens be on notice sothey will know to file a revised beneficiary designation form.RCW 11.07.010 simply requires that such a choice appearexplicitly so that affected citizens can manage their affairsaccordingly. 2 Petitioner's contrary approach would hold that spousaldesignations are automatically revoked by statute for all willsand nonprobate assets except ERISA plans, as to which statelaw is preempted. Such a rule would cause serious confusionand injustice if for no other reason than that average citizens,not conversant in ERISA coverage or preemption, will notunderstand which designations are revoked upon divorce. It is virtually inconceivable that Congress intended to pre-vent states from adopting such a clear default rule regardingthe disposition of assets upon divorce. Because determina-tions regarding beneficiary status are squarely within the tra-ditional sphere of state regulation, particularly as applied tofamily law, a strong presumption exists that Congress did notintend to preempt divorce-revocation statutes at all. See infraat 19-20. But when those statutes simultaneously address anyfederal administrative concerns by allowing ERISA plans toopt entirely out of the statute, there is no serious basis for in-validating state law. 2 The pension SPD in this case illustrates the state's concern. The SPDinstructs participants that they must designate their spouses absent thespouse's express consent to the contrary. JA 39-40. But the SPD does notexplain that any such obligation terminates upon divorce. Without theplain statement required by RCW 11.07.010, participants may be left seri-ously confused about the effect of a divorce on their designations.

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B. The Final Judgments In This Case Will Run OnlyAgainst Donna, Not Against The Plans. Petitioner's purported concerns for the administration ofERISA plans are wholly misplaced for the further reason thatthe Washington Supreme Court's holding does not imposeany duties on ERISA plans or create any rights against suchplans. Instead, this is a state-law action brought under astatutory provision that applies only to private parties. Donnapossesses an asset (the life insurance proceeds) and assertsthat she is entitled to retain the value of another (the pensionproceeds). The children dispute her claim, based on the spe-cifics of Donna's divorce decree and the legal consequencesof divorce in general. Critically, the provision on which the children rely allowsthem to state a claim only against Donna, not against theplans. Under subsection (4)(a) of RCW 11.07.010, "a formerspouse * * * who, with actual knowledge * * * receives pay-ment or transfer of a nonprobate asset to which that person isnot entitled under this section is * * * personally liable for theamount of the payment or value of the nonprobate asset[] tothe person who is entitled to it under this section." As the Washington Court of Appeals explained, "the chil-dren [would] have to bring a separate action" against theplans. Pet. App. 44a n.18. Such a suit would be brought un-der a different provision, subsection (3)(a), which expresslyprovides that a plan "is not liable for making a payment ortransferring an interest in a nonprobate asset to a decedent'sformer spouse whose interest in the nonprobate asset is re-voked under this section." RCW 11.07.010(3)(a) (emphasisadded). The only exception is if the plan pays benefits to theformer spouse with "actual knowledge" that the marriage hasbeen invalidated, which is defined to require "written notice * * * received after the decedent's death and within a time thatis sufficient to afford the payor or third party a reasonable op-portunity to act upon the knowledge." Id. 11.07.010(3)(d).The notice must identify the specific nonprobate asset and

15

must "inform the payor * * * of the revocation of the provi-sions in favor of the decedent's spouse." Id. There is a spe-cific presumption, defeatable "only by clear and convincingevidence," that five-days notice is not sufficient.Id. 3 Although petitioner is wrong about preemption even as tosuits that are brought against ERISA plans directly, thatquestion is entirely academic. Petitioner herself recognizesthat the Washington Supreme Court decision resolves mattersonly "[a]s between the parties to this case." Pet. Br. 2. Evenif this Court were to agree with Donna that an action againstthe plans would be preempted, such an advisory ruling wouldonly argue for severing subsection (3)(a), leaving in place thechildren's right to proceed against Donna under subsection(4)(a). See Leonard v. Spokane, 897 P.2d 358, 361-62(Wash. 1995) (unlawful provisions are severed unless legis-lature clearly would have intended to the contrary). 4 3 After the Washington Court of Appeals decision, the children did in factbring such an action under this provision against Aetna, which in turn as-serted that the claim was preempted by ERISA. That case settled, how-ever, before that dispute could be resolved. Under the terms of the settle-ment, the children retain a substantial direct financial interest in recover-ing the life-insurance proceeds from Donna.4 This Court's decision in Boggs v. Boggs, 520 U.S. 833 (1997), is not tothe contrary. Preemption as to the suit between private individuals inBoggs was based on a conflict with a substantive provision of ERISA thatdirected benefits to surviving spouses. Louisiana law sought to divertbenefits from the ERISA-mandated recipient and towards a new class ofnon-participant, non-beneficiaries not recognized at all by ERISA. 520U.S. at 843, 847. In the current case, however, ERISA has no substantivepolicy favoring any specific elective beneficiary, and RCW 11.07.010creates no new class of recipient. Rather, the statute merely invalidates aparticular designation, thereby leading to a different, but existing, benefi-ciary having primary claim to the benefits. See infra at 39-41. In addi-tion, under the Louisiana law in Boggs, the plaintiffs' claimed right ap-plied equally to the plan itself, 520 U.S. at 854, unlike the distinct provi-sion of Washington law relied upon by respondents. Fort Halifax Packing Co. v. Coyne, 482 U.S. 1 (1987), much reliedupon by petitioner, in fact supports respondents' view that, absent a spe-

16

C. The Final Orders in This Case Can Be QDROsThat Are Fully Immune from Preemption. A third overarching reason why petitioner's theory of pre-emption is flawed is that it looks at the rights under RCW 11.07.010 in the abstract, without considering the form ofcourt order that would implement those rights. In particular,the statute can and generally will be effectuated through aqualified domestic relations order, which is expressly exemptfrom ERISA preemption. See 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(7). Seeming to recognize that she would lose this case wereher divorce decree a QDRO directing revocation of benefici-ary designations, Donna argues that the decree does not infact mention death benefits and is not technically in the formof a QDRO. Pet. Br. 23-24 n.11. But those arguments areirrelevant to the eventual remedial orders in these cases be-cause the trial courts on remand from the Washington Su-preme Court can and will expressly address the disputedbenefits and satisfy the technical requirements for QDROs.Indeed, the order on remand in the pension proceedings al-ready satisfies the QDRO requirements. And even if that or-der is not "qualified," it (like the eventual order in the life-insurance proceedings) can later be framed as a QDRO. As relevant here, a court order is a QDRO under ERISA ifit: (1) is a domestic relations order; (2) recognizes an alternate cific substantive concern for a recipient of benefits such as a survivingspouse, ERISA is uninterested in the disposition of benefits as betweenprivate parties in a subsequent suit not involving an ERISA plan:"ERISA's pre-emption provision does not refer to state laws relating to'employee benefits,' but to state laws relating to 'employee benefitplans.'" 482 U.S. at 7. The Court thus concluded that "[t]he argumentthat ERISA pre-empts state laws relating to certain employee benefits,rather than to employee benefit plans, is refuted by the express languageof the statute, the purposes of the pre-emption provision, and the regula-tory focus of ERISA as a whole. If a State creates no prospect of conflictwith a federal statute, there is no warrant for disabling it from attemptingto address uniquely local social and economic problems." Id. at 19.

17

payee's right to receive benefits; (3) specifies the name andaddress of the participant and of each alternate payee, the planto which such order applies, and the amount or percentage ofbenefits to be paid each alternate payee; and (4) does not in-crease or require new benefits under the plan. 29 U.S.C.§ 1056(d)(3)(B)-(D). ERISA defines a "domestic relations order" as "anyjudgment, decree, or order (including approval of a propertysettlement agreement) which * * * relates to the provision of * * * marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child,or other dependent of a participant, and * * * is made pursu-ant to a State domestic relations law (including a communityproperty law)." 29 U.S.C. § 1056(d)(3)(B)(ii). Any order inthis case plainly would relate to both the "former spouse"(Donna) and to the "child[ren]" of the deceased participant(respondents). Furthermore, RCW 11.07.010 governs thedisposition of assets upon divorce and therefore falls withinstate domestic relations law, while divorce decrees applyingthe statute are entered pursuant to state community propertylaw. Indeed, the Washington Supreme Court explained thatthis case involves "Washington's sovereign interest in exer-cising its traditional police powers in the area of domestic re-lations and family law." Pet. App. 15a; cf. Mackey v. LanierCollection Agency & Service, Inc., 486 U.S. 825, 834 (1988)(relying upon state supreme court's characterization of statelaw as "procedural").5 The order on remand in the pension proceedings furtheridentifies the "alternate payees" - the children, see 29 U.S.C.§ 1056(d) (child qualifies as alternate payee) - as well as theparticipant, plan, and benefit amounts involved. See Resp.Lodging, Exh. 6, at 1 (order applies to all of "the proceeds in 5 The orders on remand are thus simply domestic relations orders imple-menting the expected and intended legal effect of Donna and David'soriginal divorce decree by rejecting Donna's claim that she held any rightto the plan benefits after the divorce.

18

the Voluntary Investment Account (VIP Plan)" of DavidEgelhoff). The order also references a prior stay order towhich the plan had agreed and which expressly applies to "theBoeing Company Voluntary Investment Plan of David A.Egelhoff, deceased." Resp. Lodging, Exh. 2. That the ad-dresses are not listed on the face of the remand order is not adisqualifying defect, particularly because that information isin the court file and well known to Boeing. See S. REP. NO.98-575, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. 20 (1984), reprinted in 1984U.S.C.C.A.N. 2547, 2566 ("The committee intends that anorder will not be treated as failing to be a qualified ordermerely because the order does not specify the current mailingaddress of the participant and alternative payee if the planadministrator has reason to know that address independentlyof the order."); see also Stewart v. Thorpe Holding Co. ProfitSharing Plan, 207 F.3d 1143, 1151 (CA9 2000) (absence ofcurrent mailing address "is not a fatal defect"; citing legisla-tive history and collecting cases). And, again, any potentialdefect can and will be cured through further proceedings inthe trial court. Any objection by Donna that the plans would not treat theorders on remand as QDROs faces two insuperable obstacles.First, the plans' QDRO provisions are not in the record and,once again, Boeing has refused to make those provisionsavailable to respondents' counsel and Donna has refused toask Boeing to provide them. Second, any disagreement overthe required form of the orders only confirms that the judg-ment in this case is not yet final. See supra at 1-2. On re-mand, the children would be in a position to cure any asserteddefects in the trial courts' remedial orders. Furthermore, fed-eral-law disputes easily could emerge regarding the form andeffect of the QDROs. In the end, the mere possibility that the final orders in thiscase can be in the form of QDROs demonstrates that ERISAdoes not preempt RCW 11.07.010. See S. REP. NO. 98-575,supra, at 19, reprinted in 1984 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2565 ("Be-

19

cause rights created, recognized, or assigned by a qualifieddomestic relations order, and benefit payments pursuant tosuch an order, are specifically permitted under the bill, Statelaw providing for these rights and payments under a qualifieddomestic relations order will continue to be exempt from Fed-eral preemption under ERISA." (emphasis added)). Peti-tioner's effectively facial attack on the statute is thus bothpremature and wrong on the merits. II. PETITIONER'S ASSERTED BASES FOR PREEMPTION AREERRONEOUS. Repeated variously in the context of both conflict andfield preemption, petitioner's alleged tensions between RCW 11.07.010 and ERISA are mistaken. Neither the specificterms nor the general and mixed purposes of ERISA demon-strate an intent by Congress to preempt this traditional area ofstate regulation. The provision of state law relied upon byrespondents does not interfere with plan administration, bindplan choices, undermine protections for beneficiaries, or inany other way impermissibly burden ERISA plans. A. A Strong Presumption Against Preemption AppliesIn This Case. 1. Through a flawed analysis of both ERISA and Wash-ington state law, petitioner claims that RCW 11.07.010 in-trudes on an area that Congress intended to reserve exclu-sively for federal law. But as this Court has recognized in itsseminal Travelers decision and elsewhere, preemption analy-sis under ERISA must begin with the starting presumption that Congress does not intend tosupplant state law. * * * Indeed, in cases like this one,where federal law is said to bar state action in fields oftraditional state regulation, * * * we have worked on theassumption that the historic police powers of the Stateswere not to be superseded by the Federal Act unless thatwas the clear and manifest purpose of Congress.

20

514 U.S. at 654-55 (citations and quotation marks omitted)(emphasis added); see also Boggs, 520 U.S. at 840; DeBuono v. NYSA-ILA Med. & Clinical Servs. Fund, 520 U.S. 806, 813(1997); Dillingham, 519 U.S. at 336. In the areas of familylaw and family property law, the presumption against pre-emption is especially strong, and such state law "must do'major damage' to 'clear and substantial' federal interestsbefore the Supremacy Clause will demand that state law beoverridden." Hisquierdo v. Hisquierdo, 439 U.S. 572, 581(1979) (citation omitted) (emphases added). An appropriately restrained notion of ERISA preemptionthus looks not to any interaction between state law andERISA plans or concerns, but rather only to "those 'conflict-ing directives' from which Congress meant to insulate ERISAplans." Travelers, 514 U.S. at 662 (citation omitted). Fur-thermore, when a multitude of state laws would be sweptaway by any particular preemption theory, that consequencespeaks not to the proper breadth of ERISA, but rather makessuspect the particular theory of preemption and calls for evengreater attention to the presumption that Congress did notmean to displace traditional areas of state law. Id. at 661,664-65. In areas in which ERISA has nothing to say on theissues addressed by state law, sweeping preemption of suchlaw would be "unsettling" to say the least, and should beavoided. Dillingham, 519 U.S. at 330; Travelers, 514 U.S. at665. 2. Petitioner attempts to turn the presumption against pre-emption of family law on its head by arguing that state lawsurvives only insofar as ERISA provides "precisely tailoredand specific means" such as the QDRO provisions for sus-taining state law. Pet. Br. 23-24. The short answer is thatTravelers and its progeny categorically reject a sweeping im-plied preemption that would leave such a narrow space forstate law. Those cases instead adopt a flat presumptionagainst preemption that views state law as filling all the spacenot expressly forbidden it by Congress.

21

The longer answer is that petitioner misunderstandsERISA's QDRO provisions, which establish a safe harborunder which domestic relations orders will per se be exemptfrom preemption regardless whether they might otherwiseconstitute an impermissible alienation or impermissibly "re-late to" an ERISA plan. That safe harbor does not, however,create the inference that all other domestic relations orders, ordomestic relations law generally, are thereby preempted.Rather, the 1984 amendments adopting the QDRO provisionswere understood by Congress to confirm that state law gov-erning rights among family members "will continue to be ex-empt from federal preemption under ERISA." S. REP. NO.98-575, supra, at 19, reprinted in 1984 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2565(emphasis added). Numerous domestic relations orders arenot preempted notwithstanding that they do not technicallyqualify as QDROs. 6 Indeed, the anti-alienation rule (which isthe primary basis for alleging a conflict with domestic rela-tions orders and hence the primary impetus for the QDROprovisions) does not apply at all to non-pension plans. 29U.S.C. § 1056(d)(1). Given the limited problem QDROs weremeant to solve, there is no "inclusio unius" inference thatwould exclude all other applications of state domestic rela-tions law. 7 6 For example, simple divorce decrees impact ERISA plans but are notthereby automatically preempted. Benefits payable to a "spouse" are ut-terly at the mercy of a state court order of divorce, which alters the recipi-ent or entirely eliminates the payment of such benefits.7 The QDRO provisions thus raise an inference of preemption only as tostate law that independently conflicts with ERISA. In Boggs, this Court'sdiscussion of QDROs went to maintaining a narrow exception to the effectof conflict preemption, not to defining broader field preemption. 520 U.S.at 841. But here there is no conflict between RCW 11.07.010 andERISA's substantive requirements, hence there is no need for a QDRO.Indeed, if anything, the QDRO provisions support respondents' position.As the federal government acknowledged below, Pet. App. 53a n.1, if theparties' intent were truly that Donna would receive the benefits, she could

22

3. By addressing the intersection between divorce and thedisposition of nonprobate assets, RCW 11.07.010 spans twoareas of traditional state concern: family law and probate andtrust law. Similar statutes revoking designations of formerspouses in wills are longstanding and now exist in virtuallyevery state. 8 These statutes are based on the conclusion that"because most testators do not want to benefit ex-spouses,such a will no longer reflects the intentions of the testator.Justice will more often be served if divorce is treated as aspecies of partial revocation and litigation on the question isforeclosed." John H. Langbein, The Nonprobate Revolutionand the Future of the Law of Succession, 97 HARV. L. REV.1108, 1135 (1984). In recent years, there has been a growingrecognition that the same rationale applies to the death bene-fits payable under nonprobate assets - such as life insurancepolicies, pension accounts, joint accounts, and revocabletrusts - which are "functionally indistinguishable" from wills. have secured a QDRO to that effect, which would not have been affectedby RCW 11.07.010.8 Only the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Vermont lackrevocation-by-divorce statutes applicable to wills. Ala. Code § 43-8-137;Alaska Stat. § 13.12.804; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2804; Ark. Code Ann. §28-25-109; Cal. Prob. Code § 6122; Colo. Rev. Stat. § 15-11-804; Conn.Gen. Stat. § 45a-257c; Del. Code Ann. tit. 12, § 209; Fla. Stat. § 732.507;Ga. Code Ann. § 53-4-49; Haw. Rev. Stat. § 560:2-804; Idaho Code § 15-2-508; 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/4-7; Ind. Code § 29-1-5-8; Iowa Code §633.271; Kans. Stat. Ann. § 59-610; Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 394.092; Me.Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 18-A, § 2-508; Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 4-105;Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 191, § 9; Mich. Stat. Ann. § 27.12807; Minn. Stat. §524.2-804; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 474.420; Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-814; Neb.Rev. Stat. § 30-2333; Nev. Rev. Stat. § 133.115; N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann.§ 551:13; N.J. Stat. Ann. § 3B:3-14; N.M. Stat. Ann. § 45-2-804; N.Y.Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 5-1.4; N.C. Gen. Stat. § 31-5.4; N.D. Cent.Code § 30.1-10-04; Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2107.33; Okla. Stat. tit. 84, §114; Or. Rev. Stat. § 112.315; 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2507; R.I. Gen. Laws§ 33-5-9.1; S.C. Code Ann. § 62-2-507; S.D. Codified Laws § 29A-2-804;Tenn. Code Ann. § 32-1-202; Tex. Prob. Code Ann. § 69; Utah Code Ann.§ 75-2-804; Va. Code Ann. § 64.1-59; W. Va. Code § 41-1-6; Wis. Stat.§ 854.15; Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-6-118; Wash. Rev. Code § 11.12.051.

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See id. at 1109, 1137-38. Moreover, the application of therevocation-by-divorce rule to nonprobate assets is regarded asnecessary in light of the increasing U.S. divorce rate and theprevalence of nonprobate assets in estate planning. See Law-rence W. Waggoner, The Multiple-Marriage Society andSpousal Rights Under the Revised Uniform Probate Code, 76IOWA L. REV. 223, 224-26 (1991). The Uniform Probate Code therefore was revised in 1990to reflect this understanding with the adoption of a new Sec-tion 2-804, which (like RCW 11.07.010) provides that unlessa governing instrument or court order states otherwise, di-vorce revokes any disposition of property - including benefi-ciary designations - made to a former spouse. Since 1990, nofewer than eighteen states have adopted a version of UPC § 2-804 or some other measure to regulate beneficiary designa-tions in nonprobate assets after divorce.9 Such statutes further the intent of asset-holders such asplan participants regarding the proper recipient of their assets.Washington thus determined that married persons generallyintend for spousal designations to be effective only during themarriage. In the rare circumstance in which that is not thecase, the parties address the issue in their divorce decree.Participants also often forget to change their designationsupon divorce or, less frequently but far more tragically, diesoon after the divorce. RCW 11.07.010 merely accounts forthese contingencies where not otherwise provided for. Washington did not, however, adopt a blanket rule thatignores contrary considerations. Any person or plan that does 9 Alaska Stat. § 13.12.804; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2804; Colo. Rev. Stat. §15-11-804; Haw. Rev. Stat. § 560:2-804; Mich. Stat. Ann. § 27.12807;Mo. Rev. Stat. § 461.051; Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-814; N.M. Stat. Ann. §45-2-804; N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-10-04; Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §1339.63; Okla. Stat. tit. 15, § 178; 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6111.2; S.D. Codi-fied Laws § 29A-2-804; Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 9.301-.302; Utah CodeAnn. §§ 30-3-7.5, 75-2-804; Va. Code Ann. §§ 20-111.1, 38.2-305; Wash.Rev. Code § 11.07.010; Wis. Stat. § 854.15.

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not wish to comply with the divorce-revocation rule need notdo so, so long as the instrument governing the nonprobate as-set contains a clear statement to that effect. RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(i); JA 11. The statute also does not revokeany arrangements mandated by law, such as any spousal an-nuity required by ERISA. RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(iii); JA 11;Boggs, 520 U.S. at 843. Finally, participants themselves canstate that their former spouses will continue to receive bene-fits after the divorce. RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(i); JA 11. State interests are furthermore at their apex in determiningthe disposition of community property, regarding which thereis otherwise a substantial risk that one spouse will double re-cover from the marital property. Washington requires that allproperty be divided equitably between spouses. See supra 2- 3. David and Donna's divorce decree expressly assignedDavid "100%" of his pension and Donna received assets ofequivalent value in the equitable division of their property. Inorder to effectuate the divorce decree, it thus was essentialthat state law terminate Donna's entitlement to the pension. Itis for this reason that amicus Western Conference of Team-sters Pension Fund is wrong to suggest that it would be suffi-cient for the state simply to remind plan participants tochange their beneficiary designations upon divorce. In acommunity property state such as Washington, an equitabledivision of property cannot be accomplished unless separateentitlements to assets are determined in the divorce itself. 10 There is no dispute that these matters are quintessentialsubjects of state regulation. Federal law does not address theissue and there is no serious argument that the federal gov-ernment has any relevant interest at all. Indeed, any extensionof federal power into the area would raise substantial consti- 10 Donna's argument that the divorce does not mention the pension plan's"death benefit" is a total straw man. The "100%" value of the pensionthat David received in the equitable division of the marital assets simplyconverted to a death benefit when David was killed. JA 39.

25

tutional concerns. United States v. Morrison, 120 S. Ct. 1740(2000). 4. The facts of this case perfectly illustrate that Wash-ington's concerns were well founded. Donna claims a right tobenefits without even attempting to dispute that David did notwant her to receive them. Indeed, she is practically brazen inadmitting that she is frustrating his desires. The record con-tains uncontradicted, sworn testimony that Donna repeatedlysaid she would receive the life insurance benefits only be-cause of David's supposed "procrastination" in not changinghis designation forms before being killed in the car crash andthat David "would be angry if he knew this was happeningbecause that was not what he wanted." JA 18-19. 11 Parenthetically, the suggestion that David "procrasti-nated" in changing his designations is of course wrong. Hedied only a few weeks after the divorce. But even more im-portant, the statute made it unnecessary for him to change thedesignation form. In fact, accepting Donna's position wouldno doubt overturn the probate proceedings for thousands ofother plan participants who, like David, have died after rely-ing on divorce-revocation statutes such as RCW 11.07.010.Given that substantial reliance interest, the appropriate courseunder this Court's precedents would be to apply any ruling infavor of preemption only prospectively. See, e.g., Harper v.Virginia Dep't of Tax., 509 U.S. 86 (1993). 5. Contrary to the assumptions underlying petitioner's ar-gument, regulation of beneficiary designations is a long-standing area of state, not federal, regulation. In addition to 11 No one seriously suggests that David consciously intended to leaveDonna as his named beneficiary "out of feelings of obligation, remorse, orcontinuing affection," U.S. Br. 23, and of course in this area of state fam-ily law the Washington state legislature's determinations regarding theintent of beneficiaries after divorce are entitled to greater respect than theSolicitor General's. In those rare instances in which a participant doeswish to leave his or her former spouse as a beneficiary, RCW 11.07.010requires only a statement to that effect.

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the divorce-revocation statutes themselves, several furtherexamples help illustrate the point.12 First, like every state other than New Hampshire, Wash-ington (in the form of a so-called "slayer statute") providesthat a person who kills his or her spouse is not entitled to re-ceive any benefits or property as a result of the death. RCW 11.84.010 to -.900. 13 Such statutes are functionally indistin- 12 The statutes discussed in the text are in addition to those adopted byWashington and most other states providing that insurance plans mustinclude provisions for determining alternate beneficiaries. See, e.g., Ala.Code § 27-18-9; Alaska Stat. § 21.48.160; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 20-1264;Ark. Code Ann. § 23-83-115; Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-7-202; Del. Code Ann.tit. 18, § 3118; D.C. Code Ann. § 35-515(6); Fla. Stat. § 627.564; Ga.Code Ann. § 33-27-3(6); Haw. Rev. Stat. § 431-10D-213(6); Idaho Code§ 41-2016; 215 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/231.1; Iowa Code § 509.2(6); Kans.Stat. Ann. § 40-434(6); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 304.16-70(1); La. Rev. Stat.Ann. § 22:176(6); Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 2619; Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 17-307; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 376.697(6); Mont. Code Ann. § 33-20-1207(I); Neb.Rev. Stat. § 44-1607(6); Nev. Rev. Stat. § 688B.100; N.J. Stat. Ann. §17B:27-17; N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 408:16(VI); N.M. Stat. Ann. § 59A-21-17; N.Y. Ins. Law § 3220; N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-58-140(6); Okla. Stat. tit.36, § 4102(6); Or. Rev. Stat. § 743.327(1); 40 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 532.6(6);P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 26, § 1408; S.D. Codified Laws § 58-16-42; Tenn.Code Ann. § 56-7-2305(a); Tex. Ins. Code Ann. art. 3.50(2)(6); Vt. Stat.Ann. § 3818; Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-3330(1); Wash. Rev. Code§ 48.24.160; W. Va. Code § 33-14-14.13 Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have enacted some ver-sion of a slayer statute. See Ala. Code § 43-8-253; Alaska Stat.§ 13.12.803; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 14-2803; Ark. Code Ann. § 28-11-204;Cal. Prob. Code § 250-52; Colo. Rev. Stat. § 15-11-803; Conn. Gen. Stat.§ 45a-447; Del. Code Ann. tit. 12, § 2322; D.C. Code Ann. § 19-320; Fla.Stat. § 732.802; Ga. Code Ann. §§ 53-4-6, 33-25-13; Haw. Rev. Stat. §560:2-803; Idaho Code § 15-2-803; 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/2-6; Ind. Code§ 29-1-2-12.1; Iowa Code § 633.535; Kans. Stat. Ann. § 59-513; Ky. Rev.Stat. Ann. § 381.280; La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22:613(D); Me. Rev. Stat.Ann. tit. 18-A, § 2-803; Mich. Stat. Ann. § 27.12803; Minn. Stat. § 524.2-803; Miss. Code Ann. §§ 91-1-25, 91-5-33; Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-813;Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2354; Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 41B.200-.420; N.J. Stat.Ann. §§ 3B:7-1 to 7-5; N.M. Stat. Ann. § 45-2-803; N.C. Gen. Stat. §§31A-3 to -11; N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-10-03; Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §

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guishable from RCW 11.07.010 in that they invalidate a bene-ficiary designation of an ERISA plan participant. See RCW 11.84.030 ("slayer shall be deemed to have predeceased thedecedent as to property which would have passed from thedecedent or his estate to the slayer"), 11.84.100(1). Yet, al-though slayer statutes were enacted as early as the beginningof the last century, with several predating ERISA,14 there isabsolutely no indication that Congress intended such statutesto be preempted. And the federal courts therefore have con-sistently held that ERISA does not preempt slayer statutes.15 2105.19; Okla. Stat. tit. 84, § 231; Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 112.455 to .555; 20Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 8801-15; R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 33-1.1-1 to -16; S.C. CodeAnn. § 62-2-803; S.D. Codified Laws § 29A-2-803; Tenn. Code Ann. §31-1-106; Tex. Prob. Code Ann. § 41(D); Utah Code Ann. § 75-2-803; Vt.Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 551(6); Va. Code Ann. § 55-401 to -415; Wash. Rev.Code §§ 11.84.010-.900; W. Va. Code § 42-4-2; Wis. Stat. § 854.14;Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-14-101. Three states - Maryland, Missouri, and NewYork - reach the same result by common law. See Price v. Hitaffer, 165A. 470, 474 (Md. 1933); Perry v. Strawbridge, 108 S.W. 641, 648 (Mo.1908); Riggs v. Palmer, 22 N.E. 188, 190 (N.Y. 1889). A fourth state,Massachusetts, has applied the slayer rule to insurance policies, but not towills. Slocum v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 139 N.E. 816, 818 (Mass.1923). 14 By 1974, when Congress enacted ERISA, at least 10 states had enactedslayer statutes applicable to insurance proceeds. See, e.g., D.C. Code Ann.§ 19-320 (enacted 1965); Idaho Code § 15-2-803 (originally enacted1971); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 381.280 (originally enacted 1940); N.M.Stat. Ann. § 45-2-803 (as in effect in 1953); N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 31A-3 to -11 (originally enacted 1961); Okla. Stat. tit. 84, § 231 (originally enacted1915); Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 112.455-.555 (originally enacted 1917); Tex.Prob. Code Ann. § 41(D) (originally enacted 1919); W. Va. Code § 42-4-2(originally enacted 1931); Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-14-101 (as in effect in1970). 15 Addison v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 5 F. Supp. 2d 392 (W.D. Va.1998); Curtis v. Prudential Ins. Co., 839 F. Supp. 491 (E.D. Mich. 1993);Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co. v. Cole, 821 F. Supp. 193 (S.D.N.Y. 1993);New Orleans Elec. Pension Fund v. Newman, 784 F. Supp. 1233 (E.D. La.1992); New Orleans Elec. Pension Fund v. Knight, 779 F. Supp. 845(E.D. La. 1991); Mendez-Bellido v. Board of Trustees of Div. 1181,A.T.U., 709 F. Supp. 329 (E.D.N.Y. 1989).

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Indeed, to the extent that administrative burdens are a ba-sis for finding ERISA preemption, there is a far stronger basisfor invalidating slayer statutes, which vary to a far greaterextent than the states' divorce-revocation rules. For example,the statutes establish no fewer than six standards for the kindof killings to which the statutes will apply. 16 Similarly, al-though many states' slayer statutes provide that in the absenceof a conviction the applicability of the statute may be deter-mined in a civil proceeding, the standard to be applied in thatproceeding varies substantially from state to state. 17 Theslayer statutes also differ in the procedural posture required toestablish an individual as a "slayer." 18 Petitioner ignores the issue of slayer statutes entirely, de-spite it having been highlighted in respondents' brief in oppo-sition. BIO 10. The Solicitor General discusses the issue, butonly in the final footnote on the final page of its brief. U.S.Br. 29 n.19. The federal government admits that the naturalconsequence of petitioner's argument is that slayer statutesare preempted. The federal government now embraces thatposition notwithstanding that it is contrary to the consistentview of the federal courts. 16 The standards are "felonious[] and intentional[]" (e.g., Alabama, Ari-zona, California, Hawaii); "willful[]" (Texas); "felonious[]" (Alaska, theDistrict of Columbia); "willful and unlawful" (Idaho, North Carolina,Pennsylvania); "unlawful[] and intentional[]" (Florida, Vermont); and"intentional[] and unjustifiabl[e]" (Illinois, Iowa).17 Some states, such as Georgia and Maine, establish a "clear and con-vincing evidence" standard, while others - including Alabama, Hawaii,and Indiana - require a "preponderance of the evidence."18 States such as Alabama specify only that a "final judgment" is required,while others - such as Alaska, Arizona, and Hawaii - indicate that thestatute will apply only "[a]fter all right to appeal has been exhausted." InIllinois, a civil proceeding to establish an individual as a "slayer" for pur-poses of the statute may be brought to trial only after "any criminal pro-ceeding has been finally determined by the trial court or, in the event nocriminal charge has been brought, * * * one year after the date of death."

29

Perhaps recognizing the implausible position into whichpetitioner's preemption theory has forced it, the federal gov-ernment suggests that it "might reasonably be argued" that theslayer rule, although not the divorce-revocation rule, is em-bodied in federal common law. But the government's argu-ment makes no sense because it explicitly rests on two totallycontradictory premises: that the slayer rule (a) involves a"truly unusual circumstance[] unlikely to have been contem-plated by Congress or the drafters of ERISA plans," yetshould be accepted as federal common law because (b) it "re-flect[s] a recognized background principle of the law * * *implicit in ERISA and the plans governed by it." U.S. Br. 29& n.18. Furthermore, Congress gave no more indication of aspecific intent to preserve slayer statutes than it did regardingdivorce-revocation laws. Both classes of state law have pre-ERISA roots, both involve the traditional state-law area ofbeneficiary designations, and Congress gave no indication inthe statute or legislative history that it intended to preempteither of them. The government's attempt to distinguish thesetwo types of laws thus makes no sense, and they would sur-vive or fail together under ERISA preemption analysis. 19 Second, the states' traditional regulation of beneficiarypayments is further demonstrated by the Uniform Simultane-ous Death Act. Washington's version of the Act provides thatin the case of simultaneous death, unless the plan otherwisespecifies, benefits are to be paid as if the beneficiary prede- 19 The Solicitor General's argument is also wrong because, as we discussfurther below, cases in which it is appropriate to create independent fed-eral common law are "few and restricted." O'Melveny & Myers v. FDIC ,512 U.S. 79, 87 (1994). Instead, courts should "adopt the readymadebody of state law as the federal rule of decision until Congress strikes adifferent accommodation." United States v. Kimbell Foods, 440 U.S. 715,740 (1979). In particular, the federal government fails to explain how"federal common law" would resolve all of the issues on which stateslayer statutes vary, such as the kinds of killings that would disentitle aspouse to benefits and the appropriate standard of proof.

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ceased the participant. RCW 11.05.040, 48.18.390. Similarprovisions, most predating ERISA, have been enacted inevery state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Is-lands. 20 Yet although such statutes both determine who willreceive plan benefits and impose varying requirements on thepayment of benefits by ERISA plans - including particularlyin their determination of what constitutes a "simultaneous"death - the courts have not held that simultaneous death stat-utes are preempted by ERISA. E.g., McKinnon v. TeachersIns. & Annuity Ass'n, No. 89-C-3363, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS4568, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 26, 1989) (deriding any such sug-gestion as "extraordinary"). Third, there are numerous other state background lawsthat, at a minimum, provide default rules for interpretingbeneficiary designations. Thus, state law defines basic con- 20 For states following essentially the same rule as Washington, see Ala.Code § 43-7-5; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 20-1127; Ark. Code Ann. § 28-10-105;Cal. Prob. Code § 224; Colo. Rev. Stat. § 15-11-712(5); Conn. Gen. Stat.§ 45a-440(d); Del. Code Ann. tit. 12, § 704; D.C. Code Ann. § 19-504;Fla. Stat. § 732.601(4); Ga. Code Ann. § 33-24-42; Idaho Code § 15-2-613(c); 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/3-1(d); Ind. Code § 29-2-14-4; Iowa Code§ 633.526; La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22:645; Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, § 2-805(E); Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-804; Mass. Ann. Laws ch.190A, § 4; Minn. Stat. § 524.2-702(4); Miss. Code Ann. § 91-3-11; Mo.Rev. Stat. § 471.040; Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-124; Nev. Rev. Stat. § 135.050;N.J. Stat. Ann. § 3B:6-5; N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 2-1.6(d); N.C.Gen. Stat. § 28A-24-4; Okla. Stat. tit. 58, §1005; 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. §8504; R.I. Gen. Laws § 33-2-5; S.C. Code Ann. § 62-1-505; Tenn. CodeAnn. § 31-3-105; Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 624; V.I. Code Ann. § 88(d); W.Va. Code § 42-5-4; Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 2-13-106. Other states apply a distinct rule that any death within 120 hours is"simultaneous." See Alaska Stat. § 13.12.702(b); Haw. Rev. Stat. §560:2-702(b); Kans. Stat. Ann. § 58-710; Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 397.1003;Mich. Stat. Ann. § 27.12702; Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-712(2); N.H. Rev.Stat. Ann. § 563:2; N.M. Stat. Ann. § 45-2-702; N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1- 09.1-02; 1999 Or. Laws 131; S.D. Codified Laws § 29A-2-702; Tex. Prob.Code Ann. § 47(E); Utah Code Ann. §§ 75-2-702, 31A-22-415; Va. CodeAnn. § 64.1-104.3; Wis. Stat. § 854.03(4).

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cepts such as "child," "spouse," "death," and other termscommonly used in benefits contracts but infrequently definedby the contracts themselves. And, as to the designation formsthemselves, state law governs issues such as forgery, duress,and capacity. There are also questions of incompetence,youth, guardianship, and many other considerations understate law that can affect designations. It is absurd to suggestthat as to all of these issues ERISA plans are an island untothemselves, immune from generally applicable state law andruled instead at the whimsy of plan administrators. These numerous examples demonstrate not only that statestatutes governing beneficiary designations are of longstand-ing provenance in a field that Congress did not intend to pre-empt, but also that petitioner's reading of ERISA would cut awide swath through multiple statutes of every single state inthe country. "The bigger the package of regulation * * * thatwould fall," under petitioner's view of preemption, "the lesslikely it is that federal regulation of benefit plans was in-tended to eliminate state regulation" in the manner alleged.Travelers, 514 U.S. at 661. And given preexisting stateregulation of these types when ERISA was passed, any pre-emption theory that would apply to such laws would be all themore "unsettling" and "startling." Id. at 665. B. RCW 11.07.010 Neither Interferes With The Uni-form Administration of ERISA Plans Nor "Binds"Plan Administrators To Impermissible Choices. Contrary to petitioner's assertions, RCW 11.07.010 doesnot interfere with the uniform administration of ERISA plansor impermissibly "bind" plan administrators' choices. 1. Uniformity for its own sake was not Congress' objectin enacting ERISA. Rather, uniformity was simply a meansto mitigate for employers some potentially inconsistent bur-dens that "might lead those employers with existing plans toreduce benefits, and those without such plans to refrain fromadopting them." Fort Halifax, 482 U.S. at 11.

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The numerous exceptions to ERISA preemption, however,illustrate that uniformity is one goal among the many goalsanimating ERISA. Thus, ERISA plans are subject to diversestate regulations in insurance, banking, securities, and crimi-nal law. 29 U.S.C. §§ 1144(b)(2)(A), (b)(4). And they aresubject to all manner of QDROs, which can require paymentsdirectly contrary to what ERISA or a plan would otherwiseprovide. At bottom, all state laws create some disuniformity, andthat is simply the inevitable and desirable result of our federalsystem. Congressional solicitude for such multifarious stateregulations thus sacrifices uniformity and efficiency in orderto bolster and confirm the historic presumption against pre-emption. Such solicitude is not exceptional, but rather con-firms the general rule and gives it added strength in certainareas in order to save even conflicting state laws. WhereCongress desired application of a uniform rule, it so providedin the specific "provisions" of ERISA, and then further pro-vided that such "provisions" would "supersede" state laws tothe contrary. 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a). Thus, while uniformitywas one partial goal of ERISA, it routinely has yielded toother important goals and should not be given talismanicweight, especially where there is no danger of conflictinglaws deterring the adoption or maintenance of benefit plans. The danger of burdensome conflicts simply does not existwith a law such as RCW 11.07.010. Unlike the laws dis-cussed in Travelers, RCW 11.07.010 neither mandates bene-fits nor requires alternative methods of calculating benefits.See 514 U.S. at 657 (discussing "benefit demanded by NewYork" in Shaw v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 463 U.S. 85 (1983));514 U.S. at 657-58 (discussing Pennsylvania law at issue inFMC Corp. v. Holliday, 498 U.S. 52 (1990), that "requiredplan providers to calculate benefit levels" based on "expectedliability conditions that differ from those" in other states); 514U.S. at 658 (discussing law in Allessi v. Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., 451 U.S. 504 (1981), that "prevent[ed] plans

33

from using a method of calculating benefits permitted by fed-eral law"). The prior laws struck down by this Court had asubstantive impact on the plans themselves, requiring addedor inconsistent benefits and thus directly increasing plancosts.21 Here, RCW 11.07.010 requires no new benefits, butrather provides a simple default rule regarding who is to re-ceive benefits in an uncertain situation. If anything, the avail-ability of such a default rule - not provided by ERISA itself -will reduce administrative burdens. Any notion that beneficiary designations have some spe-cial need for uniformity is quite mistaken. As noted above,supra at 20, 22-25, 26-31, such designations fall within areastraditionally regulated by state law and, under petitioner'sview, federal courts would now have to develop common lawin numerous traditionally state-law areas such as marriage,divorce, death, paternity, bastardy, estate law, and even fun-damental contract law. Congress cannot be presumed to haveleft plans to their own devices in these important areas, andwhere ERISA's comprehensive scheme has nothing to sayabout them, "matters left unaddressed in such a scheme arepresumably left subject to the disposition provided by statelaw." O'Melveny & Myers v. FDIC, 512 U.S. 79, 85 (1994). This Court's decision in Fort Halifax, upon which peti-tioner relies, Pet. Br. 13, 18, is not to the contrary. AlthoughFort Halifax explains that plans must determine beneficiaryeligibility, 482 U.S. at 9, the case was not about beneficiariesat all. Indeed, Fort Halifax actually upheld a state law thatimposed a far more burdensome requirement than RCW 11.07.010 - the obligation to pay a severance benefit. Whilethe Court discussed the various aspects of plan administra-tion, its preemption analysis focused on the purpose of 21 And in Pegram v. Herdrich, -- U.S. --, 120 S. Ct. 2143, 2158 (2000),this Court recently rejected a bid to establish uniform federal malpracticestandards, holding that "ERISA was not enacted *** in order to federalizemalpractice litigation in the name of fiduciary duty for any other reason."

34

"'eliminating the threat of conflicting or inconsistent Stateand local regulation of employee benefit plans.'" 482 U.S. at9 (quoting 120 CONG. REC. 29933 (1974) (statement of Sen.Williams)). There was no conflict in that case and there isnone here. Although plan administrators inevitably must de-termine who to pay, the mere existence of that task does notsupport preemption of background state law on matters re-garding which ERISA has nothing to say. 22 RCW 11.07.010 also does not "bind" plan administratorsto any choice in the Travelers sense.Rather, it only sets up arule that applies to family law situations not anticipated oraddressed by ERISA, by the plan, or by the participant. Ifanyone anticipates or addresses the issue, state law defers tothat pre-existing resolution. Such free and unburdened choice,with none of the adverse consequences of the choices in Dil-lingham or Travelers, hardly "binds" plan administrators to aparticular choice. This Court's decision in Mackey likewise demonstratesthat the default rule in this case does not impermissibly bindERISA plans to particular choices. In Mackey, this Courtheld that Georgia's garnishment statute was not preempted asit applied to "ERISA welfare benefit plans, even when thosemechanisms prevent plan participants from receiving theirbenefits." 486 U.S. at 831-32. Petitioner, addressing Mackeyin a bare footnote, characterizes the garnishment law asmerely a "procedural mechanism[] for satisfying moneyjudgments." Pet. Br. at 15 n.5 (emphasis deleted). But thegarnishment order in Mackey controlled benefit payments farmore than does RCW 11.07.010, specifying a third-partynonbeneficiary to receive those payments. 486 U.S. at 831.RCW 11.07.010, by contrast, leaves the determination of sub-sequent beneficiaries entirely up to the plan. And the statute 22 In Fort Halifax, as here, the statute only set a default rule - state lawimposed no obligation if the employee was "covered by a contract thatdeals with the issue of severance pay." 482 U.S at 5.

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in this case also is no less "procedural" than the law inMackey in that it merely establishes default procedures forinterpreting otherwise-ambiguous beneficiary designations. We now address each of petitioners' specific argumentsregarding the disuniformity or burden allegedly created byRCW 11.07.010. 2. Donna is not correct in asserting that RCW 11.07.010creates an impermissible burden on plans by requiring themto determine the marital status of plan participants. TwoERISA provisions already require the identical inquiry, dem-onstrating both that Washington law imposes no new admin-istrative requirement and also that Congress concluded that aninquiry into participants' marital status would not unduly bur-den ERISA plans. First, before disbursing benefits, ERISAplan administrators must inquire into the marital status of aparticipant in order to determine whether to pay a survivingspouse annuity. 29 U.S.C. § 1055(a). Second, administratorsmust inquire whether a divorce-related QDRO exists. Id.§ 1056(d)(3)(F); Boggs, 520 U.S. at 846. Washington statelaw requires no more. In addition, before disbursing death benefits, plan admin-istrators must secure formal proof of death in the form of acopy of the participant's death certificate, which in Wash-ington (and almost certainly in all other states as well) spe-cifically states whether the decedent left a surviving spouse.Resp. Lodging, Exh. 1. The plan need not make further in-quiries. It is presumably for that reason that in disbursing thelife-insurance benefits to Donna, Aetna already knew of herdivorce from David, expressly referring to him as her "ex-spouse." JA 29. Finally, in the rare instance that a plan administrator can-not determine a participant's marital status, neither ERISAnor Washington law subjects the plan to liability. Washing-ton law immunizes plans from liability unless they had de-tailed knowledge of the dissolution of the participant's mar-

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riage in advance of distributing benefits. RCW 11.07.010(3)(a), (d). And, in case of doubt, under RCW 11.07.010 and ERISA, plans can simply require that the com-peting claimants resolve their dispute in a court of proper ju-risdiction, which will have the responsibility of determiningthe proper recipient. Id. 11.07.010(3)(b)(2)(i). 3. Donna also errs in asserting that ERISA plans will beimpermissibly burdened because they will have to determineeach state's rule regarding the treatment of beneficiary desig-nations upon divorce or, relatedly, will be exposed to the riskof "double liability" due to conflicting state requirements. The minor variations in state statutes identified by Donnaand her amici do not indicate any significant differences.First, there is no substantive difference between those statesthat upon divorce treat the former spouse as if he or she had"disclaimed" the benefits and those that treat the formerspouse as if he or she "predeceased" the participant. Undereither formulation the benefits will be paid to the alternatebeneficiary specified by the plans. Second, although statelaws adopting UPC § 2-804 contain an express provisionstating that the statute is not effective insofar as it is pre-empted while others do not, the distinction is meaningless be-cause a finding of preemption automatically makes the rele-vant statutory provision inoperative. 23 23 The other purported examples of inter-state variations cited by peti-tioner in a footnote, Pet. Br. 20 n.8, are basically imagined. Some stateshave not yet extended the divorce-revocation rule to all nonprobate assets,such as the example cited by petitioner, 760 Ill. Comp. Stat. 35/1, whichapplies only to trusts; but, as we explain in the text, that is not a basis forfinding preemption. No state applies the revocation rule if "the benefici-ary designation was made after the divorce." Pet. Br. 20 n.8.The states likewise uniformly do not apply the revocation rule "if the divorce decreespecifically says otherwise," id.; only the Missouri statute does not ad-dress the issue expressly, but it is exceedingly unlikely that a court wouldapply the revocation rule despite the explicit, contrary intent of the par-ticipant. The same is true of states (of which there are only three) that donot explicitly state that the divorce-revocation rule does not apply if the

37

Amicus Western Conference of Teamsters also is not cor-rect that preemption should arise because many states havenot yet enacted statutes similar to RCW 11.07.010, such thatin some jurisdictions but not others spousal designations re-main effective after divorce. If this Court were to find pre-emption on the ground of interstate variation, then the devel-opment of state law would be frozen in its tracks because it isnot reasonable to expect (and the Constitution does not con-template) that all the states will act with identical alacrity.Variations among the states can be expected to resolve them-selves with reasonable speed. Although the Teamsters arecorrect that the Uniform Probate Code itself was "designedyears ago," WCT Br. 7, that argument is misleading: the pro-vision in question here, Section 2-804, was not adopted until1990. Since then, as discussed above, eighteen states haveenacted a version of Section 2-804 or an equivalent statute.The rate at which states have enacted such statutes comparesvery favorably with the process by which states enacted revo-cation-by-divorce statutes applicable to wills. 24 Particularlybecause divorce-revocation statutes do not impose any sub-stantial burdens on plans, see supra at 11-13, 32-36, thatsome states do not have such statutes is not a basis for findingpreemption. To the extent that state rules do vary, Donna's concernthat plans will be subject to conflicting obligations is seri-ously overstated. Any conflict of laws issues created by di- participant's designation states to the contrary. Petitioner's two remainingexamples involve rare factual scenarios that pose no real obstacle to planadministration. Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-814 (applicable when participantnames relative of spouse as beneficiary); Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 1339.63(inapplicable when divorced spouses remarry each other).24 See Mark Davis, Note, Life Insurance Beneficiaries and Divorce, 65TEX. L. REV. 635, 650-51 (1987) (as of 1928, only two states had enacteda revocation-by-divorce statute applicable to wills, but that by 1960 14states had enacted such statutes, 29 states by 1975, and 44 states by 1985).As discussed above, almost every state now has such a statute.

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vorce-revocation statutes are not unique in any way. Planscan and do resolve them like any other businesses under set-tled legal principles. And, of course, such potential conflictscan always be avoided ex ante with the stroke of a pen - byhaving the plan opt out and set its own uniform rule regardingdivorce. 25 Assuming that a circumstance arises in which a plan doesnot know which state's law to follow or is subject to con-flicting obligations as a result of inconsistent state laws, bothERISA and Washington law adopt the same solution: the plancan leave the matter to be resolved by the courts as betweenthe conflicting claimants. RCW 11.07.010(3)(b)(2)(i). Thatis precisely what has happened in this case with respect to thepension benefits, which Boeing has not distributed whileDonna and the children resolve their dispute. To the extent that Donna relies on the argument that pre-emption could arise from the "burden" on a plan to determinewhat state law actually provides, that theory is extraordinary.Taken to its logical conclusion, it would mean that every statelaw is preempted because ERISA plans cannot be put to theburden of understanding the statutes to which they are sub-ject. Certainly, if such an argument had merit, it would havebeen sufficient to invalidate the state taxing schemes at issuein Travelers and DeBuono. Nor does Donna's argument have any practical force.Plans must already be familiar with the far greater vagaries ofstate insurance law, all of which is exempt from ERISA pre-emption. 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(2)(A). And respondents col- 25 To the extent that Donna is correct in asserting that administrators havea superseding legal obligation to follow the plan's text, see infra at 45-46,the plan need only announce what state law it will follow or simply optout of these statutes entirely and adopt whatever rule it chooses. The pen-sion plan in this case, for example, expressly states that it will be governedby Washington law. Resp. Lodging, Exh. 5, at 17-3. Alternatively, thisCourt could announce the governing conflict of law rule. Either approachis preferable to simply invalidating the states' laws in toto.

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lected above several other areas in which states have takenvarying approaches to the treatment of plan designations, yetthe courts consistently recognize that such statutes are withinthe field of traditional state regulation that Congress did notintend to preempt. See supra at 26-31. Plans track thesevarying state requirements without difficulty because the lawof ERISA, perhaps more than any other field, is the subject ofnumerous reporter systems and regularly updated treatises. Furthermore, for small plans that operate in a single state,and are necessarily familiar with that state's laws, most par-ticipants will be married or divorced within that jurisdiction.Larger plans not only have access to still greater legal re-sources, but also already must be aware of statutes such asRCW 11.07.010 because they administer a number of assetsthat do not qualify for ERISA preemption. These assets canbe quite extensive, including so-called "top-hat plans," excessbenefits plans, deferred compensation plans, and unpaid butowing salary and bonuses in the case of sudden or unexpecteddeath. For each, an employer's human resources departmentwill have to follow state law, and hence having a differentrule for ERISA designations merely creates, rather than alle-viates, disuniformity within a single company. C. Application Of RCW 11.07.010 Does Not ConflictWith ERISA Provisions Regarding Beneficiariesand The Alienation Of Benefits. Petitioner's next argument is that RCW 11.07.010 con-flicts with ERISA provisions imposing duties on plans vis--vis beneficiaries and, relatedly, constitutes a prohibited "al-ienation" of benefits from a beneficiary to a third party. 1. Petitioner is principally wrong because she misstateshow RCW 11.07.010 operates. In those instances that thestatute applies - i.e., when the plan has not opted out of com-pliance and when the participant has not redesignated his orher spouse - RCW 11.07.010 provides that the designation ofa spouse is ineffective upon divorce and that entitlement to

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benefits is determined under the provisions of the plan. Spe-cifically, the statute triggers the plan's alternate beneficiaryprovisions by deeming the former spouse to have predeceasedthe plan participant. RCW 11.07.010(2)(a). In this case, David designated Donna as the beneficiary ofhis pension plan. Upon their divorce, the designation becameineffective and Donna was deemed to have predeceasedDavid. Petitioner attempts to suggest that it was the statuterather than the plan that determined respondents' entitlementto the benefits; that is wrong. The pension plan SPD providesthat when a named beneficiary predeceases a participant, andthere is no surviving spouse, benefits pass to the participant'schildren, JA 40 - here, to respondents. If the plan had namedsomeone else as the alternate beneficiary - for example, theparticipant's most recent former spouse - that person, ratherthan the children, would have been entitled to the benefits. Under the life insurance plan, the children similarly areentitled to benefits, whether as alternate beneficiaries orthrough David as the plan participant. Unlike the pensionplan, the life insurance SPD does not set out an alternatebeneficiary scheme. It is extraordinarily unlikely that the life-insurance plan does not have such a scheme, which is re-quired by both ERISA and Washington state insurance law.The alternate beneficiary scheme presumably is included inthe text of the plan itself. But the plan is not in the record,Boeing has refused to provide it, and Donna's counsel haverefused to request it. Given the state of the record, the state courts operated onthe premise that the life insurance plan unlawfully lacked aprovision governing alternate beneficiaries and held that,upon divorce, entitlement to the benefits should pass to theplan participant - i.e., to David. Pet. App. 34a (WashingtonCourt of Appeals decision). When David subsequently died,the benefits became part of his estate and became the propertyof respondents as his statutory heirs. Id.

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2. RCW 11.07.010 therefore does not result in the pay-ment of benefits to persons other than plan beneficiaries orparticipants. Donna's claim that the only "beneficiary" is theperson named by the plan participant on a designation form issimply not correct. ERISA defines "beneficiary" as "a persondesignated by a participant, or by the terms of an employeebenefit plan, who is or may become entitled to a benefitthereunder." 29 U.S.C. § 1002(8) (emphasis added). 26 Here,the children plainly fit that definition because the pensionplan expressly provides that they "may become entitled" tobenefits in a variety of circumstances - i.e., if there is no sur-viving spouse and the named beneficiary predeceases the par-ticipant, or the beneficiary designation is "invalid," or theparticipant fails to make a designation at all. JA 40. Although it is very likely that the life insurance plan pro-vides a similar alternate beneficiary scheme, there is no con-flict with ERISA even if it does not. Under the state courts'holding, the life insurance benefits passed to David as theplan participant. ERISA plans owe, if anything, a superiorduty to their participants (who own the assets in question, af-ter all) than to named beneficiaries. The children became en-titled to the benefits only because David died intestate andthey are his statutory heirs. Pet. App. 34a-35a. 3. For the same reasons, RCW 11.07.010 does not con-flict with ERISA's "anti-alienation" provision, which prohib-its an arrangement "whereby a party acquires from a partici-pant or beneficiary a right or interest enforceable against theplan in, or to, all or any part of a plan benefit payment whichis, or may become, payable to the participant or beneficiary."26 C.F.R. § 1.401(a)-13(c)(1)(ii).27 Under RCW 11.07.010, 26 The Solicitor General argues to the contrary only by repeatedly omittingthe critical "or may become" clause of the statute. U.S. Br. 6, 7, 21.27 Dictionary definitions confirm this understanding. "Alienate" is definedas "[t]o transfer or convey (property or a property right) to another," "al-ienation" as "[c]onveyance or transfer of property to another <alienation

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the children do not acquire any right to benefits "from" thenamed beneficiary. Again, the statute simply renders thenamed designation inoperative and leaves it to the plan to de-termine who will receive the benefits. On Donna's alternate reading, the anti-alienation provi-sion bars any circumstance in which the beneficiary does notreceive benefits because the benefits will eventually be paidto someone else. Not only does that reading ignore the re-quirement that benefits be received "from" the participant orbeneficiary, but it would also produce ridiculous results. Itwould prohibit a participant from canceling a designation ornaming a new beneficiary. It would also render a divorce aprohibited alienation because the divorce terminates the ex-spouse's right to the statute's guaranteed spousal annuity. 29U.S.C. § 1056(d)(3) (F)(i) ("the former spouse of a participantshall be treated as a surviving spouse of such participant forpurposes of" 29 U.S.C. § 1055 only to "the extent provided inany qualified domestic relations order"). 28 of one's estate>," and "assignment" as "[t]he transfer of rights or prop-erty." BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 73, 115 (7th ed. 1999).28 The precedents cited by petitioner, Pet. Br. 37, only confirm respon-dents' view. In Boggs, Louisiana community property law purported totake a portion of a guaranteed spousal annuity from the participant'sspouse and assign it specifically to the former spouse as part of her com-munity property. 520 U.S. at 844. In Guidry v. Sheet Metal Workers Na-tional Pension Fund, 493 U.S. 365 (1990), the constructive trust remedyat issue presumed that "the benefits had not been forfeited, but that a con-structive trust should be imposed so that the benefits would be paid to theUnion rather than to petitioner." 493 U.S. at 369. The union's claim to themoney thus existed only derivatively through petitioner's prior right, andthus was not meaningfully different from a garnishment. 493 U.S. at 372.Finally, in Patterson v. Shumate, 504 U.S. 753 (1992), the issue waswhether pension benefits could be included in a bankruptcy estate fortransfer to creditors who had no independent claim of right, but necessar-ily claimed only as far as the rights of the debtor. 504 U.S. at 755. Thesecases demonstrate that alienation has consistently been understood to in-volve the transfer to third parties of a person's continuing interest in a

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Nor does Donna's reading bear any relationship to thepurpose of the anti-alienation provision: avoiding spend-thrifts. Guidry v. Sheet Metal Workers Nat'l Pension Fund,493 U.S. 365, 376 (1990). RCW 11.07.010 does not transferrights to benefits from a beneficiary to a specific alternate re-cipient, as if to pay a debt or as a security interest. Indeed,any expansive reading of the anti-alienation provision in thesecircumstances would be inappropriate because (in contrast toa guaranteed spousal annuity) Donna never had a vested rightto benefits under the plans. 29 4. There is, in fact, a strong argument based on both thedesignation form filled out by David and Washington com-munity property law that, upon her divorce from David,Donna ceased to be a beneficiary at all. 30 Under ERISA,named beneficiaries are "persons." 29 U.S.C. § 1002(8). Thestatute defines "person" differently than "individual," incor-porating legal attributes beyond mere physical existence.Thus, "'person' means an individual, partnership, joint ven-ture, corporation, mutual company, joint-stock company,trust, estate, unincorporated organization, association, or em-ployee organization." Id. § 1002(9). For example, the desig-nation of "John Doe, as trustee for William Smith" confersbenefits upon John Doe only in his legal status as the trustee.Cf. McKinnon v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ala., 935 F.2d1187, 1191-92 (CA11 1991) (plaintiff was beneficiary only pension plan, and not the loss of an interest that results in the ripening of asubsequent and nonderivative claim of right by other beneficiaries.29 In addition to the reasons discussed in the text, ERISA's anti-alienationprovision is inapposite here because the judgment in this case is or will beembodied on remand in a QDRO (which is an exception to the anti-alienation rule, see 29 U.S.C. § 1056(d)(3)) and because the anti-alienation rule does not apply at all to life insurance benefits, see id.§ 1056(d)(1); Mackey, 486 U.S. at 836.30 The children have never stipulated to the contrary, having agreed belowonly that David placed Donna's name on the designation form. JA 22.

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"in her capacity as executrix"; "as an individual, [she was]neither a participant nor a beneficiary of the plan"). For the life insurance plan, David designated "Donna R.Egelhoff Wife" as his beneficiary. See Resp. Lodging, Exh. 3. But at the point their divorce became effective, there wasno such person as "Donna R. Egelhoff Wife"; the designatedperson had definitionally ceased to exist. Cf. 29 U.S.C.§ 1056(d)(3)(F) (distinguishing "former spouse" from"spouse" and "surviving spouse" except where expressly pro-vided for in a QDRO). Similarly, Washington treated Davidand Donna's marital "community" as a distinct entity. Mar-riage created a new legal person - "Donna as spouse" - and itwas that person whom David named as beneficiary. Upondivorce, however, the marital community was terminated andwith it "Donna as spouse" ceased to exist, replaced by a legal"person" with materially different rights and duties. 5. If anything, as between the parties to this case, Con-gress intended to protect the children rather than Donna. Be-cause respondents are beneficiaries under ERISA just asmuch as Donna, there can be no conflict with the ERISA pro-visions on which Donna relies, which express only a concernwith beneficiaries as a class, not with named beneficiaries(such as Donna) in supposed preference to alternate benefici-aries (such as the children). 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001(b),1104(a)(1). In other words, ERISA's interest in Donna is nodifferent than if she had been selected by David because shewas his mail carrier, his night-nurse, or the president of amultinational organization picked at random from the phonebook. ERISA expresses no policy concerning disputes be-tween beneficiaries. See Emard v. Hughes Aircraft Co., 153F.3d 949, 957 (CA9 1998) ("No ERISA provision expresslygoverns disputes between claimants to insurance proceeds."),cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1122 (1999).; see also Equitable LifeAssur. Soc'y v. Crysler, 66 F.3d 944, 948 (CA8 1995) (citingcases). It certainly makes no difference that the children hadonly a contingent right to the benefits. For at the relevant

45

time - the date of the divorce - Donna's interest was contin-gent as well. She had to survive David without him remarry-ing (which would have shifted the pension benefits to the newspouse) or naming a new beneficiary. This case is accordingly significantly different fromBoggs, in which ERISA had a distinct substantive preferencethat the surviving spouse receive a guaranteed annuity. Onthat basis, Boggs read the QDRO protections for spouses andchildren to exclude other means of extinguishing the surviv-ing spouse annuity requirement. Neither the plan nor the for-mer participant in Boggs could have changed the survivingspouse's benefit status without her express written consent,and consequently it makes sense that this Court read narrowlyany exceptions to such a strong and substantive statutorycommand. Here, by contrast, Donna's status could have beenextinguished either by David himself or by a plan provisionstating that spousal designations are revoked upon divorce. Finally, ERISA protects named beneficiaries as a classstrictly out of respect for the participant's choice. RCW 11.07.010 furthers Congress' intent by creating a presumptionthat accords with the intent of participants in the event theydivorce. By contrast, as we explained above, Donna's posi-tion does nothing more than mock Congress' intent. Sheseeks the benefits notwithstanding that she gave them up inthe divorce and that it would make David "angry," seeking toprofit from what she views as his "procrastination" in notchanging his designation form. JA 19. D. RCW 11.07.010 Does Not Conflict With Adminis-trators' Fiduciary Duty To Follow Plan Terms. Donna fares no better in arguing that RCW 11.07.010conflicts with the duty of plan administrators under ERISASection 404(a)(1) to abide by the terms of the plan. 29 U.S.C.§ 1104(a)(1)(D). Donna seriously overreads this provision,which merely announces a fiduciary duty, as if it were a pre-emption provision. She reaches that conclusion only by ap-

46

plying a critical unstated premise: that Section 404(a)(1) notonly creates a fiduciary duty to follow the plan, but alsoeliminates a fiduciary duty to follow the law. The result isnothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy: any law that anERISA plan is said to violate is thereby automatically pre-empted because, necessarily, it is inconsistent with the plan. But, plainly, Congress did not adopt petitioner's implicitpremise and did not preempt all laws that are inconsistentwith the terms of ERISA plans, thereby delegating the su-premacy clause's awesome power to preempt state statutes toprivate administrators. On Donna's reading, by contrast, eventhough Congress expressly exempted state insurance lawfrom preemption, 29 U.S.C. § 1144(b)(2)(A), administratorswould be free to ignore that body of state law simply byadopting contrary plan provisions. In fact, on Donna's read-ing, administrators could adopt plan provisions that wouldsupplant not only state law but even federal law other thanERISA, including federal anti-discrimination law. 31 2. Even assuming that petitioner's overbroad reading ofthe duty to follow the plan were correct, she would not pre-vail. First and foremost, RCW 11.07.010 expressly avoidsany conflict with plan terms because it sets only an easilyavoidable, default standard. If the plan states that it is notsubject to the divorce-revocation rule, then RCW 11.07.010does not apply. See RCW 11.07.010(2)(b)(i). Nor are the terms of the plans otherwise inconsistent withWashington law. The pension plan expressly provides that it 31 In a footnote, the Solicitor General seems to realize that Donna's argu-ment is untenable, stating that "[w]e do not, however, read Section404(a)(1) to 'enable employers to avoid any state law simply be [sic] re-ferring to that law in [their] ERISA plan.'" U.S. Br. 23 n.13 (alterationand emphasis in original) (citation omitted). But the government says nomore, and in particular fails to explain what line divides plan provisionsthat permissibly preempt state law from those that go too far. Whateverline the Solicitor General would want to draw, it certainly is not found inthe text of ERISA.

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"shall be construed according to the laws of the State ofWashington, except insofar as state law has been preemptedby [ERISA]." Resp. Lodging, Exh. 5, at 17-3. Plainly, then,any finding of preemption must rest on the text of ERISA it-self, not the plan. Donna is also wrong in asserting that the plan's terms re-quire the payment of benefits to the named beneficiary.There are several circumstances in which benefits are paid tothe alternate beneficiaries, including one particularly relevanthere. The pension plan and pension SPD both state that theplan's alternate beneficiary provisions (under which respon-dents are entitled to benefits) are triggered if the participant'sdesignation is "invalid." Resp. Lodging, Exh. 5, at 17-2 ("Ifthere is no valid designation of a beneficiary * * * the benefitswill be paid" to alternate beneficiaries); JA 40 (alternatebeneficiary provisions apply if "you have an invalid benefici-ary designation"). As a matter of Washington state law, thatis precisely the result of David's divorce from Donna - hisdesignation of her was rendered invalid. Regarding the life insurance benefits, Donna cannot plau-sibly allege that RCW 11.07.010 conflicts with the plan,which is not in the record. Her counsel do not even have acopy of the plan. Boeing refuses to provide it to respondents'counsel, and Donna's counsel refuse to request it. All that isin the record is the life insurance SPD, which does not ad-dress issues relating to governing law, choice of law, or alter-nate beneficiaries. 3. The fact that critical documents are not in the recordconstitutes an independent basis for affirmance or dismissingthe petition as improvidently granted. 32 Petitioner simply has 32 If the petition were dismissed, the Court would be free to resolve thequestion presented by granting certiorari in No. 00-265, Manning v. Hayes(filed Aug. 16, 2000). The conflict between the Washington SupremeCourt's decision in this case and the Fifth Circuit's decision in Manning,

48

not overcome the presumption against preemption becauseshe has not presented proof of the documents on which sheprincipally relies. Thus, Donna contends that RCW 11.07.010 conflicts with plan terms but has not proved whatthe life insurance plan provides; the Washington courts there-fore operated on the doubtful assumption that the life insur-ance plan unlawfully lacks any alternate beneficiary scheme.For all this Court knows, the life insurance plan may state thatit is subject to RCW 11.07.010. Although the SPDs are in therecord, they are only summaries of the plans themselves anddo not address numerous issues. Donna also contends that thestatute conflicts with David's designation of her, but there isan open question whether the designation specifies "DonnaEgelhoff Wife." The failure to provide any proof on these critical issues isparticularly extraordinary because Donna's counsel refuse toeven request the documents from Boeing - which is financingthis litigation on her behalf and has filed an amicus brief inthis Court - so that they may be reviewed by this Court. 33 Petitioner cannot expect this Court to strike down the laws ofeighteen sovereign states and announce a rule of preemptionthat would invalidate several other statutes from every otherstate, see supra at 23, 26-31, with blinders on regarding theactual facts before it. 34 212 F.3d 866 (2000), was likely a principal reason the Court granted cer-tiorari here.33 There is no non-strategic reason for withholding these documents fromrespondents. As plan beneficiaries under both the Washington SupremeCourt's holding in this case and the terms of the plan, respondents have astatutory right to the documents. 29 U.S.C. §§ 1024(b)(2), (4).34 These factual uncertainties would, however, be resolved on remand inthe trial courts, where respondents would have the power to compel pro-duction of the relevant documents. This is a further basis for finding thejudgment nonfinal. See Minnick , 452 U.S. at 127 (dismissing for lack offinality in part "because of significant ambiguities in the record").

49

E. The Judgment Should Independently Be AffirmedOn The Basis Of Federal Common Law. Given the gaps in ERISA concerning the validity of bene-ficiary designations, courts will inevitably have to choose orcreate law to fill those gaps. Respondents maintain that theappropriate source to fill those gaps is state law. But even ifthis Court were to favor application of federal law, and hencethe creation of a federal common-law rule, the net resultought to be effectively the same: Any such federal commonlaw should look to state law for its content. In particular, thisCourt should, at a minimum, adopt state statutes governingthe impact of divorce on beneficiary designations in thosestates having such statutes or comparable common-law rules. As this Court noted in O'Melveny & Myers, 512 U.S. at85, a bare conclusion that "'federal law governs'" includes"federal adoption of state-law rules," and hence in the ab-sence of a conflict, abstract determinations regarding federalpreemption of a given field are somewhat beside the point.The issue here, as in O'Melveny, is whether the state-law ruleof decision is to be applied and, if it is, "it is of only theoreti-cal interest whether the basis for that application is [Wash-ington's] own sovereign power or federal adoption of[Washington's] disposition." Id. As there is no conflict be-tween state laws such as RCW 11.07.010 and ERISA, it is notsurprising that a number of courts that broadly construedERISA preemption nonetheless reached the same substantiveresult through application of federal common law. See, e.g.,Brandon v. Travelers Ins. Co., 18 F.3d 1321, 1326 (CA51994) (following approach of Seventh Circuit in "adopt[ing]state law through federal common law and determin[ing] thatthe provision in the divorce decree divesting the wife of herrights to the benefits in question, should be enforced"), cert.denied, 513 U.S. 1081 (1995). While respondents believethat this roundabout path is unnecessary, and that state lawmay apply of its own force, the incorporation of state law via

50

federal common law still remains an option for this Court toreach the appropriate result from a different direction. 35 CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the Washing-ton Supreme Court should be affirmed.Respectfully submitted, ERIK S. JAFFEERIK S. JAFFE, P.C.5101 34th St., NWWashington, DC 20008(202) 237-8165 MICHAEL W. JORDAN2201 North 30th St.Tacoma, WA 98403(253) 627-4040THOMAS C. GOLDSTEIN(Counsel of Record)AMY HOWETHOMAS C. GOLDSTEIN, P.C.4607 Asbury Pl., N.W.Washington, DC 20016(202) 237-7543 Counsel for Respondents Dated: September 18, 2000. 35 Even if the Court were to hold RCW 11.07.010 preempted, the appro-priate course would not be to reverse but instead to vacate and remand.The state courts have not yet addressed respondents' argument that peti-tioner "waived" her rights to benefits. Accord U.S. Br. 4 n.1. In addition,given that David died so soon after the divorce, the state courts may con-clude that the children are entitled to the value of the benefits under thestate common law rule that predated enactment of RCW 11.07.010.SeeAetna Life Ins. Co. v. Wadsworth, 689 P.2d 46 (Wash. 1984). APPENDIX REVISED CODE OF WASHINGTONTITLE 11. PROBATE AND TRUST LAW CHAPTER 11.07. NONPROBATE ASSETS ONDISSOLUTION OR INVALIDATION OF MARRIAGE 11.07.010. Nonprobate assets on dissolution or invalida-tion of marriage (1) This section applies to all nonprobate assets, whereversituated, held at the time of entry by a superior court of thisstate of a decree of dissolution of marriage or a declaration ofinvalidity. (2)(a) If a marriage is dissolved or invalidated, a provisionmade prior to that event that relates to the payment or transferat death of the decedent's interest in a nonprobate asset in fa-vor of or granting an interest or power to the decedent's for-mer spouse is revoked. A provision affected by this sectionmust be interpreted, and the nonprobate asset affected passes,as if the former spouse failed to survive the decedent, havingdied at the time of entry of the decree of dissolution or decla-ration of invalidity. (b) This subsection does not apply if and to the extentthat: (i) The instrument governing disposition of thenonprobate asset expressly provides otherwise; (ii) The decree of dissolution or declaration of in-validity requires that the decedent maintain a nonprobate assetfor the benefit of a former spouse or children of the marriage,payable on the decedent's death either outright or in trust, andother nonprobate assets of the decedent fulfilling such a re-quirement for the benefit of the former spouse or children ofthe marriage do not exist at the decedent's death; or (iii) If not for this subsection, the decedent couldnot have effected the revocation by unilateral action becauseof the terms of the decree or declaration, or for any other rea-

Appendix 2

son, immediately after the entry of the decree of dissolutionor declaration of invalidity. (3)(a) A payor or other third party in possession or controlof a nonprobate asset at the time of the decedent's death is notliable for making a payment or transferring an interest in anonprobate asset to a decedent's former spouse whose interestin the nonprobate asset is revoked under this section, or fortaking another action in reliance on the validity of the instru-ment governing disposition of the nonprobate asset, beforethe payor or other third party has actual knowledge of the dis-solution or other invalidation of marriage. A payor or otherthird party is liable for a payment or transfer made or otheraction taken after the payor or other third party has actualknowledge of a revocation under this section. (b) This section does not require a payor or other thirdparty to pay or transfer a nonprobate asset to a beneficiarydesignated in a governing instrument affected by the dissolu-tion or other invalidation of marriage, or to another personclaiming an interest in the nonprobate asset, if the payor orthird party has actual knowledge of the existence of a disputebetween the former spouse and the beneficiaries or other per-sons concerning rights of ownership of the nonprobate assetas a result of the application of this section among the formerspouse and the beneficiaries or among other persons, or if thepayor or third party is otherwise uncertain as to who is enti-tled to the nonprobate asset under this section. In such a case,the payor or third party may, without liability, notify in writ-ing all beneficiaries or other persons claiming an interest inthe nonprobate asset of either the existence of the dispute orits uncertainty as to who is entitled to payment or transfer ofthe nonprobate asset. The payor or third party may also, with-out liability, refuse to pay or transfer a nonprobate asset insuch a circumstance to a beneficiary or other person claimingan interest until the time that either: (i) All beneficiaries and other interested personsclaiming an interest have consented in writing to the payment

Appendix 3

or transfer; or (ii) The payment or transfer is authorized or di-rected by a court of proper jurisdiction. (c) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2) of thissection and (a) and (b) of this subsection, a payor or otherthird party having actual knowledge of the existence of a dis-pute between beneficiaries or other persons concerning rightsto a nonprobate asset as a result of the application of this sec-tion may condition the payment or transfer of the nonprobateasset on execution, in a form and with security acceptable tothe payor or other third party, of a bond in an amount that isdouble the fair market value of the nonprobate asset at thetime of the decedent's death or the amount of an adverseclaim, whichever is the lesser, or of a similar instrument toprovide security to the payor or other third party, indemnify-ing the payor or other third party for any liability, loss, dam-age, costs, and expenses for and on account of payment ortransfer of the nonprobate asset. (d) As used in this subsection, "actual knowledge"means, for a payor or other third party in possession or con-trol of the nonprobate asset at or following the decedent'sdeath, written notice to the payor or other third party, or to anofficer of a payor or third party in the course of his or her em-ployment, received after the decedent's death and within atime that is sufficient to afford the payor or third party a rea-sonable opportunity to act upon the knowledge. The noticemust identify the nonprobate asset with reasonable specificity.The notice also must be sufficient to inform the payor or otherthird party of the revocation of the provisions in favor of thedecedent's spouse by reason of the dissolution or invalidationof marriage, or to inform the payor or third party of a disputeconcerning rights to a nonprobate asset as a result of the ap-plication of this section. Receipt of the notice for a period ofmore than thirty days is presumed to be received within atime that is sufficient to afford the payor or third party a rea-sonable opportunity to act upon the knowledge, but receipt of

Appendix 4

the notice for a period of less than five business days is pre-sumed not to be a sufficient time for these purposes. Thesepresumptions may be rebutted only by clear and convincingevidence to the contrary. (4)(a) A person who purchases a nonprobate asset from aformer spouse or other person, for value and without actualknowledge, or who receives from a former spouse or otherperson payment or transfer of a nonprobate asset without ac-tual knowledge and in partial or full satisfaction of a legallyenforceable obligation, is neither obligated under this sectionto return the payment, property, or benefit nor is liable underthis section for the amount of the payment or the value of thenonprobate asset. However, a former spouse or other personwho, with actual knowledge, not for value, or not in satisfac-tion of a legally enforceable obligation, receives payment ortransfer of a nonprobate asset to which that person is not enti-tled under this section is obligated to return the payment ornonprobate asset, or is personally liable for the amount of thepayment or value of the nonprobate asset, to the person whois entitled to it under this section. (b) As used in this subsection, "actual knowledge"means, for a person described in (a) of this subsection whopurchases or receives a nonprobate asset from a formerspouse or other person, personal knowledge or possession ofdocuments relating to the revocation upon dissolution or in-validation of marriage of provisions relating to the paymentor transfer at the decedent's death of the nonprobate asset,received within a time after the decedent's death and beforethe purchase or receipt that is sufficient to afford the personpurchasing or receiving the nonprobate asset reasonable op-portunity to act upon the knowledge. Receipt of the personalknowledge or possession of the documents for a period ofmore than thirty days is presumed to be received within atime that is sufficient to afford the payor or third party a rea-sonable opportunity to act upon the knowledge, but receipt ofthe notice for a period of less than five business days is pre-

Appendix 5

sumed not to be a sufficient time for these purposes. Thesepresumptions may be rebutted only by clear and convincingevidence to the contrary. (5) As used in this section, "nonprobate asset" meansthose rights and interests of a person having beneficial owner-ship of an asset that pass on the person's death under only thefollowing written instruments or arrangements other than thedecedent's will: (a) A payable-on-death provision of a life insurancepolicy, employee benefit plan, annuity or similar contract, orindividual retirement account; (b) A payable-on-death, trust, or joint with right ofsurvivorship bank account; (c) A trust of which the person is a grantor and thatbecomes effective or irrevocable only upon the person'sdeath; or (d) Transfer on death beneficiary designations of atransfer on death or pay on death security, if such designa-tions are authorized under Washington law. For the general definition in this title of "nonprobateasset," see RCW 11.02.005(15) and for the definition of"nonprobate asset" relating to testamentary disposition ofnonprobate assets, see RCW 11.11.010(7). (6) This section is remedial in nature and applies as ofJuly 25, 1993, to decrees of dissolution and declarations ofinvalidity entered after July 24, 1993, and this section appliesas of January 1, 1995, to decrees of dissolution and declara-tions of invalidity entered before July 25, 1993.

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