Supreme Court Decides Whether Ex-Spouses Should Get Insurance Money

Decades ago, a man (initials W.H.) married a woman (initials J.M.). Like about 50% of all Americans, the couple fell out of love after a few years, and decided to get a divorce. While married, W.H. listed J.M. as his beneficiary to his insurance police which was through Federal Employee's Group Life Insurance. After their split, W.H. remarried another woman (J.H.). Eventually, W.H. passed on, leaving behind a legacy of finances for his family.

Because his life insurance policy was never altered, the money from the police went to J.M., his ex-wife. His current wife was outraged, claiming she had a right to the money as a spouse. This complicated real-life situation is what has led the Supreme Court to discuss this prominent issue in estate planning, divorce, and division.

According to a law in Virginia, where the case took place, a beneficiary on a life insurance policy can be passed over for a current spouse. Yet J.M. argued that this law was pre-empted by Federal law saying that a named beneficiary has the right to money in any circumstance regardless of whether or not he or she is married to the spouse who left the life insurance.

Now, the Supreme Court has decided that they will make an overarching decision regarding the case, and will then award the life insurance policy money to whichever individual should benefit. If you are currently working through estate planning or property division issues and you need assistance, contact a San Fernando divorce attorney at Cutter& Lax today. With the right lawyer on your side, you may be able to prove that you are entitled to finances or property that you were originally denied.