What to do if my ex-husband had a life insurance policy naming me as the beneficiary but the insurance company doesn’t want to pay because we were divorced?

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What to do if my ex-husband had a life insurance policy naming me as the beneficiary but the insurance company doesn’t want to pay because we were divorced?

Can they do that?

Asked on January 18, 2014 under Insurance Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you were identified as the beneficiary by name, then they should pay: your marital state will not affect the payment of the policy, which is, after all, a contract--the insurer must pay the person plainly identified in it. On the other hand, if you were listed/named by him only as "my wife," they clearly would not have to pay you: you are no longer my wife. The answer is more ambiguous if you were identified as "my wife, Jane Doe"--usually, I've seen courts rule that the "my wife" is descriptive only and doesn't restrict payment to the woman only so long as she is the wife, but that's not as clear cut. If this was the case, you should consult about your case in more detail with an attorney.


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