Hopefully you have heard from your estate planning attorney about the need to update your estate plan, anytime that you have a significant change in your life circumstances. This includes going over your retirement accounts and life insurance policies to make sure beneficiary designations are up to date.
If you think that this is just a way for attorneys to get you back into their offices for more fees, then a recent story reported by the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog "Ex-Spouse Receives Bulk of Insurance Death Benefit" should change your mind.
A man named his wife as an 83% beneficiary on the group life insurance policy he received through his employer. His children were the other beneficiaries.
After he got divorced, he never updated the policy and the policy was not mentioned in his divorce proceedings.
When he passed away, his ex-wife refused to waive her status as a beneficiary. Under federal law, the ex-wife could only be removed from the policy, if a divorce decree mandated it.
State law was no more helpful in this case and the ex-wife received her share of the insurance money.
When an estate planning attorney warns you to review and update your estate plan, make sure that you listen and do so.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Feb. 15, 2017) "Ex-Spouse Receives Bulk of Insurance Death Benefit."