Former Spouse Life Insurance Claims
The intersection of life insurance and divorce is a complex legal area. This guide aims to elucidate the intricacies of claiming or disputing life insurance benefits involving former spouses. If you are dealing with a life insurance claim where a former spouse is trying to make a claim, or if you are a former spouse whose name is still on the life insurance policy, call our Florida life insurance lawyers today for a free consultation at 800-337-7755 or Chat with our agents.
Life Insurance and Divorce: An Overview
Divorce often necessitates a reevaluation of life insurance policies. Key considerations include the status of the former spouse as a beneficiary and potential changes in policy ownership. Some divorce decrees may also require the former spouse to maintain life insurance to offset child support, alimony or asset settlement.
Legal Landmarks: Sveen v. Melin and Florida Statute 732.703
The Supreme Court’s decision in Sveen v. Melin significantly impacts beneficiary designations post-divorce. Similarly, Florida’s Statute 732.703 outlines specific conditions where revocation upon divorce may not apply, such as explicit post-divorce agreements or irrevocable designations. Sveen upheld revocation upon divorce statutes, though there are exceptions which courts are considering. It is a changing and complex field so consider having a life insurance lawyer assist if you are a divorced spouse with life insurance or are disputing a former spouse’s life insurance claim.
Filing a Life Insurance Claim as a Former Spouse
When a former spouse seeks to claim life insurance benefits, several factors must be considered. These include the terms of the divorce decree, the type of life insurance policy, and state and federal laws governing beneficiary designations.
Florida Statute 732.703 outlines specific exceptions to the automatic revocation of a former spouse as a life insurance beneficiary upon divorce. These exceptions include situations where federal law overrides state law, where post-divorce agreements explicitly maintain benefits for an ex-spouse, where wills or trusts govern asset disposition, or where divorce decrees mandate maintaining assets for the benefit of former spouses or children. It also covers scenarios of irrevocable beneficiary designations, governance by laws of other states, joint asset ownership, remarriage to the same person, and state-administered retirement plans. Each exception highlights unique circumstances where the usual revocation rule may not apply. For more detailed information, please refer to Florida Statute 732.703. Some exceptions include:
(a) To the extent that controlling federal law provides otherwise;
(b) If the governing instrument is signed by the decedent, or on behalf of the decedent, after the order of dissolution or order declaring the marriage invalid and such governing instrument expressly provides that benefits will be payable to the decedent’s former spouse;
(d) If the order of dissolution or order declaring the marriage invalid requires that the decedent acquire or maintain the asset for the benefit of a former spouse or children of the marriage, payable upon the death of the decedent either outright or in trust, only if other assets of the decedent fulfilling such a requirement for the benefit of the former spouse or children of the marriage do not exist upon the death of the decedent;
(e) If, under the terms of the order of dissolution or order declaring the marriage invalid, the decedent could not have unilaterally terminated or modified the ownership of the asset, or its disposition upon the death of the decedent;
(f) If the designation of the decedent’s former spouse as a beneficiary is irrevocable under applicable law;
(g) If the instrument directing the disposition of the asset at death is governed by the laws of a state other than this state;
(h) To an asset held in two or more names as to which the death of one coowner vests ownership of the asset in the surviving coowner or coowners;
(i) If the decedent remarries the person whose interest would otherwise have been revoked under this section and the decedent and that person are married to one another at the time of the decedent’s death; or
(j) To state-administered retirement plans under chapter 121.
Contesting a Life Insurance Claim
In situations where a party wishes to dispute a former spouse’s claim, understanding the legal grounds for contestation is crucial. This could involve challenging the validity of the beneficiary designation or arguing about the interpretation of the divorce decree. Disputes often lead to a life insurance interpleader lawsuit. Our attorneys have handled several life insurance interpleaders and can guide you through the case.
Florida Life Insurance Claim From Former Spouse
Navigating life insurance claims in the context of divorce requires careful consideration of legal precedents, state-specific statutes, federal law, and the particular circumstances of each case. Legal guidance is recommended for those involved in such disputes.
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