What will happen if my husband passed before he could change could make me his beneficiary?

My husband was diagnosed with cancer last year. He passed about 3 months ago. We got married the month before after being together for 5 years. He listed his father as his beneficiary 9 years ago. The day after we got married, he fell and was admitted into the hospital. he did not wake up and passed away a little over a week later. He did not have a chance to change the beneficiary name. What rights do I have as his spouse? I just want to pay off his debt and his car payment and pay for his funeral costs and his headstone. His father said I was not getting anything from him.

Asked on January 28, 2019 under Insurance Law, Texas


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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Insurance proceeds are payable to the named beneficiary only. It is a matter of contract law as an insurance policy is a contract. This is true even if the policy holder intended to make a change. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

You don't have any right to the insurance proceeds, and they go to his father. Insurance is a contract: it pays out to whomever is specified in the contract/policy--i.e., the listed beneficiaries. The insurancer MUST go to the named beneficiary; it can't be paid to anyone else. It does not become part of your husband's estate, and so is not inherited by you as his spouse--it will go directly to his father. Unfortunately, since your husband never changed the beneficiary designation, it still goes as he set it up 9 years ago.

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