Does a divorce decree trump designated life insurance beneficiaries?

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Does a divorce decree trump designated life insurance beneficiaries?

My sister died 4 months ago; and 4 months prior to that she was divorced. The divorce decree contains wording that “it shall serve as revocation of each party as beneficiary on all life insurance or pension plan of the other party, even though no formal change of beneficiary may be made in the future to the insurance carrier”. She died without getting around to changing the beneficiary of 3 life insurance policies and her retirement – all still list her ex-husband as beneficiary. He has already put in a claim on 1 and it is in process. How much wieght does divorce decree have?

Asked on June 20, 2012 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

Roman Aminov / Law Offices of Roman Aminov

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

My condolonces on your loss. As the previous attorney correctly mentioned, the law is on your side and your sister's ex husband should not be receiving the money from the policies. Speak to an attorney to fully enforce your rights.

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss. Not only is the divorce decree on your side but State law is as well.  What you need to do is to send a letter to each of the insurance companies immediately by certified mail return receipt requested and advise them that you are challenging the beneficiary designation on the policy and that you demand that the insurance company "interplead" the funds in to court until the matter is resolved. Get legal help asap.  Good luck.


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