This article in the New York Times addresses the requirement that a spouse be informed of a change in beneficiary and consent to that change:"WHY does a married person who has certain kinds of retirement accounts have to get his or her spouse’s permission to change the beneficiary of those accounts?
And why does a married person who is about to start receiving a pension have to get spousal permission to select a payment option that will not give the spouse at least half of those benefits for life if the pensioner dies first?
The short answer to both questions is, because the law says so. A longer answer came when President Ronald Reagan signed that law, the Retirement Equity Act of 1984.
“No longer will one member of a married couple be able to sign away survivor benefits for the other,” Mr. Reagan said, explaining that “a spouse’s written consent now will be required on any decision not to provide survivors’ protection.”
Check out the whole article here