This Note will summarize the history of Boggs and discuss the issues that led to a circuit split between the Fifth and Ninth Circuits regarding community property rights and ERISA protected pension plan benefits in the testamentary context. It will also track ERISA's legislative history to determine Congressional intent. In particular, this Note will examine inconsistencies among past judicial constructions based on the application of ERISA's preemption and spendthrift provisions to regulate private pension plans. Further, this Note will scrutinize the Court's holding in Boggs giving deference to the facts in the record to clarify the problems inherent in the majority's questionable reasoning. Finally, this Note will discuss the broad reach of the Boggs holding in light of the practical estate planning considerations and resulting uncertainty now faced by lawyers and plan participants and spouses in community property states. This Note ultimately suggests a legislative solution to remedy the adverse effects of the Court's holding in Boggs in order to avoid any further federal intrusion upon state granted property ownership and testamentary rights.
Boggs v. Boggs: State Community Property and Succession Rights Wallow in ERISA's Mire, 28 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.