What happens if an ex-wife is left on a life insurance policy?

Can they inherit? If not, what happens?

Asked on March 10, 2019 under Insurance Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor


As a general rule, an ex-spouse is not eligible to receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy payable on the death of the other ex-spouse. If you forget to change the beneficiary designation, TX law prvides that the insurer should be instructed to pay the proceeds to the alternate beneficiary. If there is no such beneficiary designated, then the company must pay the proceeds to the deceased's estate. That having been said, there are exceptions. In TX there are 3 exceptions to the rule that a former spouse cannot receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy: (1) if the former spouse has custody of minor children then the divorce decree may name that spouse as beneficiary; (2) the insured may give written instructions to the insurance company after the divorce redesignating the former spouse as beneficiary; and (3) the policy may designate the former spouse as trustee of the proceeds on behalf of or for the benefit of a dependent. 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.