Do life insurance policy’s automatically pay to a surviving spouse when there is no Will?

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Do life insurance policy’s automatically pay to a surviving spouse when there is no Will?

My ex-wife had a policy through her employer with myself (ex-husband) as the primary beneficiary and our 2 children as secondary. Her current husband at the time received the money.

Asked on August 26, 2010 under Insurance Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your loss.  The law on this matter varies but generally the right to a life insurance policy ends on the date of the divorce. If your ex wife intended you to remain as the beneficiary then she would have had to "re-designate" you as the the beneficiary after the divorce was finalized, meaning that she would have had to fillo out a new designation of beneficiary form with her employer and filie it prior to her death. Each policy, too, has a provision that allows for the pay out of the policy should the beneficiary designation be found to be invalid at the time of the death of the insured.  If it just says "spouse" then he got it outright.  If it says "estate" then it goes through probate.  You would have the read the policy specifically to know.


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