After my divorce, whom should I name as my primary beneficiary?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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After your divorce, you may not want your former spouse to remain on your life insurance policy as the beneficiary. In this case, the most obvious choice would be to name your children as your beneficiaries. If your children are young, you may want to choose a trust as the beneficiary instead and then spell out within the trust how and when the proceeds are to be given to your children. If you do not have children, then consider who will likely be responsible for your estate. You can name your siblings, parents or other family members as beneficiaries or you can name a funeral home if you want the entire benefit to go toward the cost of your funeral (this is generally only recommended in extremely small policies so that the funeral home is not overpaid by your policy benefit) or charity. If you name your estate as the beneficiary, this will force your life insurance policy death benefit to go through probate, which could be a lengthy process.

If you have no one to name as a beneficiary, you might consider allowing your insurance policy to lapse or surrendering it for the cash value. But look ahead to your potential future financial and personal situation before you decide to do this,. As you age and your health deteriorates, it becomes more and more difficult and expensive to buy life insurance, and your situation could change if you were to remarry. Keeping the policy you bought while you were married could prove very helpful in the future.

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