My father passed away, come to find out his divorced exwife is still his beneficiary, and as his daughter is there any legal way to fight her for my fathers assets?

My father passed not long ago and the only
assets he has that would be worth anything is
in his 2 pensions. When I call they tell me I
can’t do anything as his daughter because my
dad didn’t update his beneficiary after the
divorce. It still shows his exwife on the divorce
decree and pension forms. Is there any way
legally I can fight her? She is not the type of
person that would do the right thing.

Asked on March 22, 2016 under Estate Planning, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you may not be able to successfully fight her on this: a person has the right to designate whomever he wants as his pension beneficiary, the same way as a person can designate any person whom he  wants as his life insurance beneficiary. If the *way* she is designated makes it clear that she was only designated because they were married--e.g. the designation states, "my wife, Jane Doe," then you might be able to contest it, on the ground that the terms of the designation indicate that she was only designated as his spouse, but is no longer his spouse. But if just her name (e.g. "Jane Doe") were used, then he designated her as a person (so to speak), not as his spouse, and the designation will most likely stand.

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