What to do if my father passed away and never changed the beneficiary of his life insurance policy, so it is still in his ex-wife’s name?

They only lived together 6-8 months and have been divorced for 4 years with no contact. Do I have grounds to dispute her getting his life insurance policy?

Asked on August 5, 2015 under Insurance Law, Nevada

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, life insurance proceeds are paid to the named beneficiary, wehther or not they are an ex-spouse. Typcially, divorce has no effect on who is designated to receive these proceeds. In other words, an ex-espouse is not automatically removed as the beneficiary.

Not withstanding the foregoing, there are instances in which an ex-spouse is not eligible to collect life insurance proceeds. For example, if the insurance policy contains a provision that excludes a spouse from receiving benefits if the spousal status no longer exists at the time of the insured’s death. Further, a divorce decree may provide that the ex-spouse is no longer eligible to receive these benefits. Finally, some states have laws that revoke a spouse’s beneficiary rights on divorce.

At this point you should consult with a local attorney; they can best advise you further under applicable state law. Also, they can check the divorce paperwork and see if the issue was addressed in any of it, as well as checking the language in the policy itself.

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, life insurance proceeds are paid to the named beneficiary, wehther or not they are an ex-spouse. Typcially, divorce has no effect on who is designated to receive these proceeds. In other words, an ex-espouse is not automatically removed as the beneficiary.

Not withstanding the foregoing, there are instances in which an ex-spouse is not eligible to collect life insurance proceeds. For example, if the insurance policy contains a provision that excludes a spouse from receiving benefits if the spousal status no longer exists at the time of the insured’s death. Further, a divorce decree may provide that the ex-spouse is no longer eligible to receive these benefits. Finally, some states have laws that revoke a spouse’s beneficiary rights on divorce.

At this point you should consult with a local attorney; they can best advise you further under applicable state law. Also, they can check the divorce paperwork and see if the issue was addressed in any of it, as well as checking the language in the policy itself.


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