Can an Ex-wife Be the Beneficiary on Her Ex-husband's Life Insurance in Texas?

By Marcy Brinkley

When married people buy life insurance, they usually name each other as beneficiaries to allow the family to maintain its usual standard of living after one spouse dies. After the death of the insured person, the insurance company pays the proceeds of the policy to the beneficiary named on the contract. Recognizing that a divorced person may no longer want his former spouse to receive the proceeds of the policy, the Texas legislature enacted a section of the Texas Family Code to address this situation.

Life Insurance

A life insurance policy is a contract that requires the insurance company to pay the proceeds to the designated beneficiary after the insured person dies. The beneficiary may be an individual, trust, charity or other entity. If the primary beneficiary has already died or is not eligible to receive the proceeds, the insurance company pays the proceeds to the secondary beneficiary. This distribution takes place automatically and is not involved in the probate court process.

Divorce Decree and Life Insurance

A Texas divorce decree lists the property awarded to each spouse. The spouses may divide their property by agreement, or they may ask the judge to divide the property after hearing evidence from both sides. In the case of a life insurance policy, the decree names the owner of each policy. The owner continues to pay the premiums on the policy and, unless the decree says otherwise, is free to change the beneficiary or cancel the policy.

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No Beneficiary Designation in Divorce Decree

Except in certain circumstances, a former spouse is not eligible to receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy on the other spouse after a divorce. If you named your former spouse as beneficiary during the marriage but you want someone else to be the beneficiary after the divorce, provide written instructions to that effect to your insurance company. If you forget to change the beneficiary designation, though, the Texas Family Code instructs the insurance company to pay the proceeds to your alternate beneficiary. If there is no designated alternate beneficiary, the company must pay the proceeds to your estate.

Exceptions

The Texas Family Code lists three exceptions to the rule that a former spouse cannot receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy after a divorce. If the former spouse has custody of minor children, the divorce decree may name that spouse as beneficiary. Alternatively, the insured person may give written instructions to the insurance company after the divorce redesignating the former spouse as beneficiary. Finally, the policy may designate the former spouse as trustee of the proceeds on behalf of or for the benefit of a child or dependent. In all of those situations, the former spouse can receive the proceeds of the policy.

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Divorce & Distribution of Life Insurance Benefits

References

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How to Get Divorce Records From Conroe Texas Online

The city of Conroe, Texas is located in Montgomery County. There are two types of divorce records for divorce proceedings that occur in Montgomery County: a divorce decree and a divorce certificate. A divorce decree is a legal instrument prepared by the Montgomery County District Court which finalizes and sets forth the terms and conditions of the divorce, including division of marital property, child custody, child support and alimony. A Montgomery County divorce decree cannot be obtained online. A divorce certificate, also called a divorce verification letter, is a document issued by the Texas State Department of Health which states whether or not a divorce has been recorded with the State of Texas since 1968 and if so, provides the names of the husband and wife, date and place the divorce was finalized. A Montgomery County divorce certificate can be obtained online.

Kansas Regulations on Life Insurance Beneficiary Change Form Requirements

Life insurance protects your family from financial catastrophe should you die unexpectedly. It’s a replacement for lost income. Like other states, Kansas regulates life insurance through its statutes and through regulations issued by the state insurance commissioner. Life insurance proceeds pass to beneficiaries named in the contract and are not governed by your will. Changing a beneficiary is usually as easy as filling out a form, but not always.

Wills in Oregon

Each state has unique laws governing estates and wills. In Oregon, you can disinherit anyone except your spouse. If you disinherit your child, however, speak to an attorney to make sure you clearly state that in your will, as you cannot disinherit a child by omission: Oregon law presumes you forgot to mention a child who is not in your will, and may award the child a share of your estate equal to that which your other children receive.

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