Can a state preclude payment of like insurance benefits to an ex-spouse, even if that the deceased’s last wish?

UPDATED: Jan 19, 2014

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Can a state preclude payment of like insurance benefits to an ex-spouse, even if that the deceased’s last wish?

My deceased wife designated me, her ex-husband as her beneficiary on her life insurance policy. She filled out a change of benificary several years ago before she died. The insurance company sent me a letter asking for a copy of the decree to determine the property settlement or how the property was distributed. The divorce states that, ” Each party shall retain ownership of their respective life insurance policies in effect with their own designated beneficiaries.”

Asked on January 19, 2014 under Insurance Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The state has no interest in or control over who is paid pursuant to a life insurance policy. If you were designated by your ex-wife as her beneficiary by name, and that was never revoked, you are the beneficiary. On the other hand, if you were identified as beneficiary as "my husband," then regardless of her last wishes, you would not get the proceeds--you are no longer her husband, and so would not be the designated "my husband" beneficiary.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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