Life Insurance Beneficiaries

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Life Insurance Beneficiaries

My dad passed away and going through paperwork. It seems as though he named an ex girlfriend a primary beneficiary and his son’s my brother and I were named as contingent beneficiary’s on his life insurance policy. They have not been together for 6 years and he passed away suddenly and never changed his policy to new girlfriend/significant other or made changes to remove her. Is there any way to fight this in court. I have read a lot regarding ex-spouse’s and some states offer automatic beneficiary revocation life insurance, however it does not relate to the same situation so was looking for feedback.

Asked on September 3, 2017 under Insurance Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A former girlfriend is not legally equivalent to an ex-spouse, since there has been no change in legal status (spouse is a legal status; girlfriend is not, and girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, and friends who simply happen to be girls all have the same legal rights). Therefore, if the former girlfriend was named as the main beneficiary, she will get the policy proceeds: insurance policies are contracts, and like any other contracts, are enforced according to their terms. If this contract said that she receives the money, then she will receive the money. Your father could have changed this at any time; but since he did not, she remains the 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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