I’m the beneficiary on my ex-husband’s $250,000 life insurance. He’s now threatening to change it. Is he in breach of our

I’m the beneficiary on my ex-husband’s $250,000 life insurance. He’s now threatening to change it. Is he in breach of our


“He was by no means devoted in our marriage, and he took satisfaction in stiffing individuals he did enterprise with and never paying his payments.” (Picture topic is a mannequin.) – Getty Photographs/iStockphoto

Expensive Quentin,

My ex-husband has a $250,000 life-insurance coverage. I’m 50 years of age and solely have $45,000 saved. Once we divorced, I made certain that I might be the named beneficiary so I might have safety as I obtained older and go this to my kids, however he has knowledgeable my two youngsters that he can not afford to pay the $200-a-month premiums, and they’d have to pay it. He has additionally lengthy threatened to vary the beneficiary designation. Can he do this?

That is his means of attempting to undo the promise and dedication he made after we divorced. I understood that our divorce settlement specified that I ought to stay beneficiary of his life-insurance coverage — that’s how I bear in mind it. I hoped, however I by no means absolutely trusted, that he would comply with by means of on that. He was by no means devoted in our marriage, and he took satisfaction in stiffing individuals he did enterprise with and never paying his payments. As soon as a cheater, all the time a cheater.

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Ex-Spouse & Mom

“Roughly half of U.S. states have some form of revocation-upon-divorce statute that automatically removes an ex=spouse as a life-insurance beneficiary after divorce.”“Roughly half of U.S. states have some form of revocation-upon-divorce statute that automatically removes an ex=spouse as a life-insurance beneficiary after divorce.”

“Roughly half of U.S. states have some type of revocation-upon-divorce statute that robotically removes an ex=partner as a life-insurance beneficiary after divorce.” – MarketWatch illustration

Expensive Ex-Spouse,

The reply, my buddy, ought to be in your divorce decree.

“Assuming there’s a life-insurance requirement within the divorce decree, it ought to spell out who pays the premiums,” according to MassMutual. “You will need to have outlined clear phrases and duties because it may very well be detrimental to the beneficiaries if the premiums don’t receives a commission. When you’ve got added your ex-spouse to the coverage, you could request to obtain copies of billing data and lapse notices.”

Individuals normally add a provision to say the beneficiary can’t be modified with out their consent. On the time of your divorce, you and your lawyer ought to have clearly outlined the coverage proprietor, MassMutual provides. “That is vital as a result of the coverage proprietor has the flexibility to vary beneficiaries, charges and insurability, which can assist shield your revenue. It’s also attainable to signal over the possession of an current coverage previous to divorce proceedings.”

You don’t point out what sort of life-insurance coverage your husband holds. A term-life coverage lasts anyplace from 10 to 30 years, and in case your ex-husband outlived that interval, the coverage would expire and the beneficiaries wouldn’t obtain any cash. An entire-life coverage, alternatively, has a money worth and, for that cause, prices greater than a term-life coverage. As soon as a whole-life coverage has constructed up important financial worth, the insured particular person can money it out or borrow towards it.

It’s not so uncommon for a partner to fail to adjust to a divorce decree over a life-insurance coverage. The partner might cancel the coverage, change it and even change the beneficiaries. There are a number of points right here. First, it’s your former husband’s accountability to pay for the life-insurance coverage and never make it his kids’s accountability. It’s unlucky, unfair and petty that he’s placing them in the course of your dispute.

In Hillman vs. Maretta, the U.S. Supreme Courtroom dominated in favor of a 66-year-old man’s ex-wife, reasonably than his widow, because the beneficiary of a life-insurance coverage price over $124,000. On this case, he could not have wished his ex-wife, whom he had divorced 10 years earlier than his dying, to say his life-insurance coverage. However the divorce decree didn’t matter, as a result of the doc given to the insurance coverage firm had his ex-wife’s identify on it.

State regulation varies

In case your divorce decree was not clear concerning the beneficiary of your ex-husband’s life-insurance coverage, the end result could rely upon the legal guidelines of your state. Can a divorce decree override a life-insurance coverage? “Sure. If the policyholder was married in a group property state and obtained divorced, the ex-spouse could also be entitled to a number of the dying profit no matter who’s the named beneficiary,” in keeping with Boonswang Law in Philadelphia.

Roughly half of U.S. states — together with Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Colorado — have some type of revocation-upon-divorce statute that robotically removes an ex-spouse as a life-insurance beneficiary after divorce, the regulation agency provides. California regulation, in the meantime, excludes life-insurance insurance policies from computerized revocation-upon-divorce legal guidelines.

A life-insurance beneficiary for a former partner in California will go muster, in keeping with Carina Castañeda, a lawyer in Manhattan Seashore, Calif., “until the property settlement or divorce decree particularly supplies for a opposite consequence; the policyholder modifications the beneficiary designation; an insurance coverage contract nulls the beneficiary designation upon divorce; [or] the previous partner legally waives their curiosity within the coverage.”

We’d all wish to imagine that former spouses will maintain their phrase and maybe act in a extra honorable method than they did throughout the marriage, whether or not it’s concerning youngster help, alimony, life-insurance insurance policies or retirement accounts. However divorce doesn’t essentially change individuals. In lots of instances, it could possibly current a possibility for a former partner to once more wield no matter energy they need to create disruption within the lifetime of their ex.

Your divorce lawyer ought to have the ability to advise you as to what motion you may take primarily based on the legal guidelines in your state and the precise wording of your divorce decree. Beneficiary disputes, as that aforementioned case suggests, will be extraordinarily advanced and difficult to win. They’ll additionally, in the event that they find yourself going to a better courtroom and dragging out for years, be massively costly. Your authorized adviser will have the ability to let you know whether or not it’s price it.

Keep sturdy, keep centered — and don’t let your ex get beneath your pores and skin.

Earlier columns by Quentin Fottrell:

My husband spent $85,000 on repairs to my house before we were married. Does the house remain separate property? What happens if I die?

‘He’s holding all the cards’: My mother, 86, has dementia. Her partner of 30 years is on the deed to her home. How can I gain control of her finances?

I got bitten by a feral cat and my hospital copay wiped out my savings. I’m 50, single, with no kids. Should I cash out my $12,000 life-insurance policy?

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