Can I take a life insurance policy and name someone else other than my wife as beneficiary?

I have a close friend that I have known for several years. I want to make sure she is well taken care of if I die. Can I take out a life insurance policy and name her the beneficiary?

Asked on July 6, 2016 under Family Law, Wisconsin


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Most people name their spouses as insurance beneficiaries. However, in most states you do not have to; you can name whoever you chooes (although better not to name a minor; there are special rules for that). That having been said, if you live in a community property state and want to name someone else, you'll need to get your spouse’s written consent. The reason is that if you buy a life insurance policy with community funds (i.e. your wages, then it belongs to both you and your spouse). In these states, most of you and your spouse's assets (excepting by gift or inheritance), is community property. That means it belongs to both of you equally. And WI is a community property state. For stae specific information, you can consult directly with a local attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.