Who is entitled to collect under a life insurance policy?

My grandfather passed away 16 years ago. I just found out he had a life insurance policy.The insurance company said that his ex-wife of 20 years is on the policy. However, they said that since I’m a blood grandchild, I can claim the policy with the correct proof. Is this true?

Asked on February 18, 2013 under Insurance Law, South Carolina


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, the party named on the life insurance policy as the beneficiary is the party to whom the proceeds are paid. This issue arises when parties fail to review their assets after divorce and make sure that their beneficiary designations are what they want it to be.  Now, some states have laws that specifically address this issue and state that a party must re-designate their ex after the divorce for the beneficiary designation to be valid.  It is my understanding though that South Carolina does not have this law and that there is no safeguard to protect the asset from going to the ex. I would speak with a lawyer in your area.  Good luck.

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