Earlier this week I received a call from an ex-husband had
divorced his wife in June of 2015. He and his wife agreed that he could be a life
insurance policy on her. They continued to live together after
divorce until the ex-wife died in December 2015. Just that week he had received
a letter from the insurance company that they were denying his claim on
the $100,000 policy because of the
Further questions revealed that the man did not want to pay for an attorney
and instead paid $300 for some forms and had done the
divorce himself. The ex-husband wanted to know if there was anything that could
be done he had been paying on the policy for over 10 years. Unfortunately
in his case the law does not favor him in this case as I will discuss below.
Failure to Change the Beneficiary of a Life Insurance Policy
It is important to change the beneficiary on your life insurance beneficiary
policy after a
divorce in Texas.
It is not uncommon for people to forget to change their beneficiary designations
after a divorce. For this reason the Texas legislature passed a law to
address the situation. Texas Family Code §9.301 specifically sets
out provisions to deal with a situation where a pre-divorce designation
of an ex-spouse as a beneficiary of life insurance benefits has been made.
Under this statute, a pre-divorce designation of a former spouse is not
- the decree designates the insured's former spouse as the beneficiary;
the insured redesignates the former spouse as the beneficiary after rendition of the
divorce decree; or
- the former spouse is designated to receive the proceeds in trust for, on
behalf of, or for the benefit of a child or a dependent of either former spouse.
An ex-spouse will not be able to collect on the pre divorce life insurance
policy unless they meet one of the three preceding criteria.
Instead, according to Texas Family Code §9.301 Section (b) the proceeds
of the policy are payable to the named alternative beneficiary or, if
there is not a named alternative beneficiary, to the estate of the insured.
Keep in mind that if the insurance company is not informed that the parties
have divorced and the ex-spouse should not be paid the benefits, it is
possible the insurance company may pay the former spouse. In such a case
it could be costly and difficult to recover the money.
What can be done if an ex-spouse is still designated as beneficiary?
The best thing to do would be after your divorce to contact your life insurance
company after and to update the beneficiary designations on retirement
plans, life insurance policies, annuities, survivor’s benefits,
and all similar benefit plans.
Alternatively if the insured has passed away then one thing that can be
done to stop an insurance company from paying a former spouse after the
death of an insured is to give written notice by certified mail to the
insurer at its home office that the designation of the former spouse is
not effective under Texas Family Code §9.301.
What could the ex-husband have done to prevent his predicament?
In the husband’s case he could either have made sure a provision
was place in the divorce decree designating him as a beneficiary of the
insurance policy. Alternatively after the divorce he could have beneficiary
re-designated as a beneficiary.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children
and families. If you have questions regarding
divorce, it's important to speak with one of our
Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and
developing a strategy to meet those goals.
Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online
form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles
Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein,
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