What happens if an ex-wife is still listed as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy?

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What happens if an ex-wife is still listed as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy?

My father had a life insurance policy and my ex-stepmother was named beneficiary. He remarried but never updated the policy. Does that then make his widow the one who gets the policy payout or will it still go to his ex-wife? He did not have a Will.

Asked on June 12, 2017 under Insurance Law, Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Many states (and my research suggets that VA is among them), have statutes providing revocation of "nonprobate assets" upon divorce in a situation where a deceased ex-spouse fails to change a beneficiary designation after divorce. This means that the beneficiary designation is automatically revoked, so the proceeds pass to those persons whom the revocation statute assumes the deceased would have wanted the proceeds to go to. And life insurance proceeds are such an asset. Accordingly, your father's widow should inherit. To be certain you her rights under specific state law, she should consult directly with a VA attorney.


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