In a couple has been separted for 20 years, what are the ways to keep one of the parties from receiving any portion of my other’s pension and insurance when they pass?

My mother has been completely separated from my dad for almost 20 years (absolutely no contact, not even with his children). He was an abusive addict throughout the intact marriage and because she in the process of passing, she wants to make sure her pension and insurance are left to care for my younger siblings. She wants a divorce, but her condition makes it likely that the process will long, and her time can come at any moment.

Asked on August 30, 2011 Texas


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your Mother's state.  I think that she needs to consult with an attorney in the area as soon as possible.  Here is the thing: because they are legally married he is entitled to a portion of her estate under the law and she can not disinherit him from a Will.  He has what is known as a right of election against the Will and under intestacy (dying with out a Will)  will also receive a portion of the estate.  So she needs to peak with someone to structure out the money so that he gets as little as possible.  She can nae the children as beneficiaries of the insurance  by contracting the life insurance company and she should do that and request a designation of beneficiary form.  Then those proceeds pass outside the estate and a probate proceeding.  Get help asap.  Good luck. 

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