What to do if the beneficiary of an annuity is an ex-husband?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What to do if the beneficiary of an annuity is an ex-husband?

My sister has passed away. In her Will everything was left to me as she had no

children and I was her only sibling. After probate and contacting the

company that holds her annuity, I found out that her ex-husband of 34 years is the beneficiary of the annuities. This comes as a complete shock. Is there anything I can do about this? The attorney who completed her Will was her ex-husband’s best friend. My sister had home health care for many years and a lengthy history of being an alcoholic. There was a time when she would tell me that her attorney was trying to get her to sign documents but she refused, so part of me believes this whole thing with the annuity was deceitful and someone took advantage of my sick sister.

Asked on June 29, 2018 under Estate Planning, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, there is nothing you can do. Your sister could have changed this, but did not--she could have contacted the annuity company and made you or her estate the beneficiary. Since she did not, it is, unfortunately, a straightforward contract issue: the annuity goes to whomever was designated as the beneficiary. Because it goes directly to him, it bypasses your sister's estate and therefore is not controlled or affected by her will. The terms of the annuity agreements will be enforced as written.

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