6.15.010  <<  6.15.020 >>   6.15.025

RCW 6.15.020

Pension money exempt—Exceptions—Transfer of spouse's interest in employee benefit plan.

(1) It is the policy of the state of Washington to ensure the well-being of its citizens by protecting retirement income to which they are or may become entitled. For that purpose generally and pursuant to the authority granted to the state of Washington under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 522(b)(2), the exemptions in this section relating to retirement benefits are provided.
(2) Unless otherwise provided by federal law, any money received by any citizen of the state of Washington as a pension from the government of the United States, whether the same be in the actual possession of such person or be deposited or loaned, shall be exempt from execution, attachment, garnishment, or seizure by or under any legal process whatever, and when a debtor dies, or absconds, and leaves his or her family any money exempted by this subsection, the same shall be exempt to the family as provided in this subsection. This subsection shall not apply to child support collection actions issued under chapter 26.18, 26.23, or 74.20A RCW, if otherwise permitted by federal law.
(3) The right of a person to a pension, annuity, or retirement allowance or disability allowance, or death benefits, or any optional benefit, or any other right accrued or accruing to any citizen of the state of Washington under any employee benefit plan, and any fund created by such a plan or arrangement, shall be exempt from execution, attachment, garnishment, or seizure by or under any legal process whatever. This subsection shall not apply to child support collection actions issued under chapter 26.18, 26.23, or 74.20A RCW if otherwise permitted by federal law. This subsection shall permit benefits under any such plan or arrangement to be payable to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a participant in such plan to the extent expressly provided for in a qualified domestic relations order that meets the requirements for such orders under the plan, or, in the case of benefits payable under a plan described in 26 U.S.C. Sec. 403(b) or 408 of the internal revenue code of 1986, as amended, or section 409 of such code as in effect before January 1, 1984, to the extent provided in any order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction that provides for maintenance or support. This subsection does not prohibit actions against an employee benefit plan, or fund for valid obligations incurred by the plan or fund for the benefit of the plan or fund.
(4) For the purposes of this section, the term "employee benefit plan" means any plan or arrangement that is described in RCW 49.64.020, including any Keogh plan, whether funded by a trust or by an annuity contract, and in 26 U.S.C. Sec. 401(a) or 403(a) of the internal revenue code of 1986, as amended; or that is a tax-sheltered annuity or a custodial account described in section 403(b) of such code or an individual retirement account or an individual retirement annuity described in section 408 of such code; or a Roth individual retirement account described in section 408A of such code; or a medical savings account or a health savings account described in sections 220 and 223, respectively, of such code; or a retirement bond described in section 409 of such code as in effect before January 1, 1984. The term "employee benefit plan" shall not include any employee benefit plan that is established or maintained for its employees by the government of the United States, by the state of Washington under chapter 2.10, 2.12, 41.26, 41.32, 41.34, 41.35, 41.37, 41.40, or 43.43 RCW or RCW 41.50.770, or by any agency or instrumentality of the government of the United States.
(5) An employee benefit plan shall be deemed to be a spendthrift trust, regardless of the source of funds, the relationship between the trustee or custodian of the plan and the beneficiary, or the ability of the debtor to withdraw or borrow or otherwise become entitled to benefits from the plan before retirement. This subsection shall not apply to child support collection actions issued under chapter 26.18, 26.23, or 74.20A RCW, if otherwise permitted by federal law. This subsection shall permit benefits under any such plan or arrangement to be payable to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent of a participant in such plan to the extent expressly provided for in a qualified domestic relations order that meets the requirements for such orders under the plan, or, in the case of benefits payable under a plan described in 26 U.S.C. Sec. 403(b) or 408 of the internal revenue code of 1986, as amended, or section 409 of such code as in effect before January 1, 1984, to the extent provided in any order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction that provides for maintenance or support.
(6) Unless prohibited by federal law, nothing contained in subsection (3), (4), or (5) of this section shall be construed as a termination or limitation of a spouse's community property interest in an employee benefit plan held in the name of or on account of the other spouse, who is the participant or the account holder spouse. Unless prohibited by applicable federal law, at the death of the nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse, the nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse may transfer or distribute the community property interest of the nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse in the participant or account holder spouse's employee benefit plan to the nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse's estate, testamentary trust, inter vivos trust, or other successor or successors pursuant to the last will of the nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse or the law of intestate succession, and that distributee may, but shall not be required to, obtain an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, including a nonjudicial binding agreement or order entered under chapter 11.96A RCW, to confirm the distribution. For purposes of subsection (3) of this section, the distributee of the nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse's community property interest in an employee benefit plan shall be considered a person entitled to the full protection of subsection (3) of this section. The nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse's consent to a beneficiary designation by the participant or account holder spouse with respect to an employee benefit plan shall not, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, be deemed a release, gift, relinquishment, termination, limitation, or transfer of the nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse's community property interest in an employee benefit plan. For purposes of this subsection, the term "nonparticipant, nonaccount holder spouse" means the spouse of the person who is a participant in an employee benefit plan or in whose name an individual retirement account is maintained. As used in this subsection, an order of a court of competent jurisdiction entered under chapter 11.96A RCW includes an agreement, as that term is used under RCW 11.96A.220.
NOTES:
Effective date1999 c 42: See RCW 11.96A.902.
Severability1990 c 237: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [ 1990 c 237 § 2.]
Severability1988 c 231: See note following RCW 6.01.050.
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