What You Need to Know About Divorce and Life Insurance

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Life throws curveballs at us, and, at times, those take the form of significant life events such as divorce. While indeed a challenging time, it’s crucial to address the intersection of Divorce and Life Insurance. Understanding the dynamics of this relationship is essential to ensuring your financial protection. So, let’s delve into the key considerations surrounding life insurance and divorce settlements.

Handling Life Insurance in Divorce

Divorce proceedings are filled with numerous decisions, one of which revolves around life insurance and, in some instances, even social security benefits. It’s a common misconception that life insurance and social security benefits become void or irrelevant after a divorce, but the reality is far from it. The treatment of a life insurance policy and the distribution of social security benefits largely depends on the policy’s specific terms, the duration of the marriage, and the agreement between the spouses.

In many divorce settlements, the custodial parent – often caring for the children – is the beneficiary. This arrangement ensures that financial support is available for the children’s needs in the event of the insured parent’s demise.

For example, consider a couple with two children where the father is the primary income earner. After the divorce, the father might maintain a life insurance policy with his ex-spouse as the beneficiary. If something were to happen to him, the life insurance payout would help support the children financially.

Divorce And Life Insurance

Does Divorce Void a Life Insurance Policy?

A prevalent question that surfaces during divorce proceedings is whether or not a divorce would void a life insurance policy. But, divorce does not automatically void a life insurance policy.

However, it’s vital to understand that unless changes are made, the ex-spouse would still be the beneficiary if they were initially named so. Therefore, revisiting your policy and making necessary adjustments to align with your new circumstances is essential.

Divorce In Life Insurance

The Possibility of a Divorced Spouse Collecting Life Insurance

A divorced spouse can collect life insurance, but it’s subject to certain conditions. If the divorce decree stipulates that the life insurance policy remains with the ex-spouse, they are eligible for the death benefit.

Let’s take the case of Lisa and John, who divorced after a 15-year marriage. As part of their divorce settlement, John was required to maintain a life insurance policy with Lisa as the beneficiary. In this scenario, if John passed away, Lisa would be eligible to collect the life insurance benefit.

Removing a Spouse from Life Insurance Before Divorce

While removing a spouse from your life insurance policy before divorce may seem straightforward, it may not always be possible or advisable. If the policy was obtained jointly or if there are pre-existing legal agreements, this may prevent you from making changes without mutual consent.

Picture this: Sarah and Tom are going through a divorce. Sarah wishes to remove Tom from her life insurance policy. However, a prenuptial agreement states that Tom must remain the beneficiary until the divorce is finalized. In such a case, Sarah cannot remove Tom from her policy until after the divorce is settled.

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Next Steps

Navigating the terrain of Divorce and Life Insurance can be tricky, but understanding the interplay between the two can help you make informed decisions. Remember, divorce doesn’t void a life insurance policy; reviewing and adjusting your policy as needed is crucial. A divorced spouse can indeed collect life insurance, provided the policy or divorce decree stipulates it. While it might seem tempting to remove your spouse from your insurance policy amidst a divorce, there might be legal barriers preventing such changes. In these complex situations, professional advice can be a valuable asset. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure the financial protection of all parties involved, including any children, in the changing landscape of your life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Is Life Insurance Handled In A Divorce

Life insurance is typically handled in a divorce settlement with the same process as other assets. If you own the policy, it’s considered an asset that may be divided in the territory. You and your spouse can negotiate who will get the procedure or if one of you will buy out the other’s portion.

Is Life Insurance A Marital Asset?

Yes, life insurance is considered a marital asset in most cases. Therefore, if the policy was removed during the marriage, it might be divided as part of the divorce settlement. However, if the procedure was created before the wedding, it will usually remain with that party after the divorce.

Who Becomes Beneficiary After Divorce?

After a divorce, you must choose a new beneficiary for your life insurance policy. This could be your children, other family members, or another person of your choosing. Therefore, updating the beneficiary designation as soon as possible after the divorce is finalized is essential.

Is My Ex-Wife Entitled To Life Insurance Benefits?

Typically, your ex-spouse is not entitled to life insurance benefits unless they are named as the beneficiary in your policy. You should make sure that you update the beneficiary designation after the divorce to ensure that it reflects your wishes and intentions.

*Disclosure: Some of the links in this guide may be affiliate links. I may receive a commission at no cost to you if you purchase a policy. It helps us keep the lights on!

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed insurance agent and annuity broker with over a decade of first-hand experience. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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