My ex husband passed away earlier this year but never took my name off of his life insurance policy as beneficiary, what are my rights?

UPDATED: Nov 9, 2013

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My ex husband passed away earlier this year but never took my name off of his life insurance policy as beneficiary, what are my rights?

We were divorced 17 years ago. Since the policy was not listed in our divorce settlement papers, the insurance company is telling me that I am not eligible for the payment? Is this legal? What are my options?

Asked on November 9, 2013 under Insurance Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you were identified by name (e.g. "Jane Doe," or even "my wife,  Jane Doe,' since that case, the "my wife" is generally held to be purely descriptive, and to not alter the identity of the beneficiary) then you should still be his beneficiary: an insurance policy is a contract, and that contract, which would be enforced by the courts as per its terms, names you as the beneficiary.

If you were only identified in the policy as "my wife" without your name, you are no longer his beneficiary, since you are not his wife any longer.

If the insurer refuses to pay you when you think they should, speak with an attorney--you may be able to sue the insurer to force them to pay.

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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