Skip to main content

Life Insurance Beneficiary Question. If ex-husband names his ex-wife as beneficiary, does she have to share with the new wife

Smyrna, GA |

Husband has now died and the insurance policy beneficiary is still in the name of the ex-wife. New wife wants half. Does ex-wife have to give anything?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. No.

    If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you (and am not your lawyer). Do feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 if you wish to discuss actual representation (the phone call also does not retain counsel; that requires an office visit and appropriate paperwork). In that a forum such as this provides me with limited details and doesn't allow me to review details and documents, it is possible that answers here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate, and I highly recommend that you retain legal counsel rather than rely on the answers here. (You can also email my office at geaatl@msn.com . An email also does not retain my office, but can help you get an appointment set if you prefer not to call). I am happy to discuss possible representation with you. Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy.


  2. Some states automatically revoke a spouse's designation as beneficiary upon divorce. It does not appear, however, that Georgia is one of these states. If a significant sum of money is at stake, it would be worthwhile to have an attorney letter written to the New wife setting forth the state of the law.

    If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email - Jgold@goldbenes.com


  3. Mr. Ashman is exactly right: No, the ex-wife does not have to give anyone any proceeds she receives as a life insurance policy beneficiary. Life insurance proceeds belong to the beneficiary no matter what. This is a perfect example of why it is absolutely critical to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible after a divorce or a remarriage, AND to FOLLOW THROUGH on the attorney's advice. The attorney should, in addition to providing updated legal documents, also provide a reminder to the client that he or she needs to go back and check all beneficiary designations and "payable on death" or "transfer on death" designations, to ensure that needed or desired changes are made. Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens all the time. But getting good planning help and following through on it can really help people avoid this sort of sad situation.

    This answer is not intended to provide you with specific legal advice regarding your situation, or to create any attorney-client relationship. The intent is only to provide general information. You should be aware that you cannot rely on this answer to provide you with any protection against tax penalties. You should always consult your own attorney in order to obtain legal advice.


  4. This is one of the most heavily litigated issues, in recent times. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided cases providing that the insurance company must pay the beneficiary. State law then determines whether the beneficiary is allowed to keep it or not. Under MANY states, the divorce judgment or property settlement serves as a waiver and the ex-spouse is not allowed to retain the benefits. Other states provide that the ex holds the proceeds in a "constructive trust" for the estate. This is not a simple issue and you may want to explore it in more detail. The law in this area continues to evolve. It is one of the "hot button" issues in law.

    James Frederick

    P.S. BOTH of my colleagues who offered you prior responses are Georgia attorneys and very good ones. I do not disagree with their responses, as they may be spot on, for Georgie law. If your husband or his ex were in a different state, or if the insurance company policy dictates that the laws of a different state apply to the policy, your answer could vary. I would have this reviewed in detail, particularly if the insurance is substantial.

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Questions?
An attorney can help.

Post a question and get free legal advice from attorneys.

Ask a Lawyer

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics