In re Phillips, No. 09-21-00284-CV, 2023 WL 6156080 (Tex. App.—Beaumont Sept. 21, 2023, no pet. h.).



The primary beneficiary survived the owner of a 401(k) plan but by less than 120 hours. A dispute arose whether the plan proceeds pass through the primary beneficiary’s estate or to the contingent beneficiary. The Beaumont Court of Appeals held that the normal 120-hour survival period imposed by Estates Code § 121.102 did not apply because the retirement plan expressly required only that a beneficiary survive with no mention of a time period. See Estates Code § 121.001 (Chapter 121 does not apply if a contract provides otherwise). Accordingly, the proceeds pass through the primary beneficiary’s estate.


Moral:  The default 120-hour survival period does not apply if the governing document provides otherwise.