If my late husband failed to change his life insurance beneficiary from his ex-wife to me, who receives the proceeds?

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If my late husband failed to change his life insurance beneficiary from his ex-wife to me, who receives the proceeds?

Asked on January 10, 2016 under Insurance Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your insurer is correct: an insurance policy is a contract, and the insurer is contractually and legally obligated to pay the policy to the designated beneficiary. The divorce decree is not binding on the insurer, since the insurer was not a party to, or part of, the divorce: court order or decree only binds the parties who were in court. Your husband failed to change his beneficiay when he had the chance; now the insurance will be distributed to his beneficiary.
There is a *chance* that you can get the insurance money from the ex-wife, because he is obligated by the terms of the decree. Bring the decree to a matrimonial or divorce attorney to review and discuss with you.


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