What to do if I just got a letter from an insurance company stating I may have a community property claim on my deceased husband’s life insurance policy?

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What to do if I just got a letter from an insurance company stating I may have a community property claim on my deceased husband’s life insurance policy?

We have been living together for 2 years before we married about 9 months ago. He lied to me and stated he was divorced but he was actually still married until 6 onths ago. He was trying to get our marriage annulled at the time he died. He changed the beneficiary to his children 2 months before he died. I know his policy from work was not ERISA and that he got the policy 16 years ago. I know our state has community property laws and I want to know if I am entitled to at least half of my husband’s policy? I think his kids influenced him because they hate me. Do I have a chance to claim anything?

Asked on February 26, 2013 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Generally, you have a right to claim anything that was acquired during the marriage. (Not the period of cohabitation) If the policy was purchased 16 years ago, which is far in advance of the two of you getting married, then you would not automatically have a right to the policy.  If you were previously the beneficiary and he was not competent to change the beneficiary status, then you may have some basis for getting the change undone based on his mental faculties.  If the court found that he was not competent to make that change, then you would get the percentage he had previously designated. You would have this right because of his designation of you as a beneficiary-- not because of your marriage status.  This is a very general answer based on a set of limited facts.  Your ability to claim to the proceeds could also be affected by any agreements that he had with his prior wife and her claim to being deprived of any community assets that were acquired during their marriage.  Bottom line, is that if you are really serious about claim anything related to his estate, you need to visit with a probation and family law attorney.  They will be able to look at the change in the beneficiary status to see if the change was effective and if there are any exceptions that could affect your claim.


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