Can I designate my children as my beneficiaries in a will if I am legally separated since 5-06 in PA? Ex continues to fight settling divorce.

UPDATED: Mar 25, 2009

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Can I designate my children as my beneficiaries in a will if I am legally separated since 5-06 in PA? Ex continues to fight settling divorce.

Asked on March 25, 2009 under Family Law, Pennsylvania


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Unless the separation agreement specifies that you must name and maintain a specific beneficiary (such as your spouse) for your life insurance, you can name anyone you choose.

One potential issue is what happens if the beneficiaries are minors? The insurance company can not pay minors the proceeds until they turn 18 so the proceeds are typically held at interest by the company, or paid to a court appointed guardian of their property. But in either event the money is typically paid to them all at once at 18, which many people believe is too young for a person to get a relatively huge sum of money all at once.

That's why people going through a divorce often set up a trust for their children, naming someone other than the spouse as the trustee, and designating the trust as the beneficiary of the insurance policy. In that way at the discretion of your selected trustee (say a brother) some of the money can be used to meet the kids needs while they are younger, some can be used to pay for for a college education or home, and the rest given to the children on attaining milestones, such as some at age 18, some on graduation from college, some at 25, etc. rather than the children getting it all at 18 when they may be as likely to use it to buy a fancy sports car as productively save or invest it.  

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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