Can an ex-spouse collect on their ex-spouse’s life insurance?

UPDATED: Feb 12, 2019

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Can an ex-spouse collect on their ex-spouse’s life insurance?

I heard recently that many states prohibit ex-spouses from getting the life insurance money, even if his/her name was on the beneficiary line. Is that true in ME?

Asked on February 12, 2019 under Insurance Law, Maine


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, your information is wrong, or more properly, incomplete. If an ex is named personally and only as the beneficiary, it goes to that person: someone can name anyone, including an ex, as a beneficiary. But if the person were named instead as "my husband, John," or "my wife, Jane" then they might not be entitled to it because in that case, there is reason to think that the deceased left them the money only as or because they were his/her when they are divorced and that person is no longer their spouse, that person is essentially no longer the person ("my husband" or "my wife") to whom the money was left. So how the beneficiary was named can affect if they receive it or not, but if named as a "person" (so to speak) and not as a "spouse," they will receive the benefits.

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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