Divorce and designating beneficiaries

by | Apr 17, 2015 | Firm News, High Asset Divorce |

Divorcing spouses in Connecticut might benefit from understanding more about keeping beneficiary designations up to date. One of the most important steps in maintaining current records for an upcoming divorce is reviewing the names listed as beneficiaries on various documents. Divorcing spouses may need to ensure that they designate another individual as beneficiary instead of their ex-partner. Some of the documentation that has a designated beneficiary may include annuities, retirement plans, life insurance policies or transfer of death ban or brokerage accounts.

Once the divorce proceeding has already begun, the designated beneficiaries may not be changed until the process is finalized. Spouses may benefit from evaluating the beneficiaries designated to valuable assets whenever there is a divorce on the horizon. Certain documents, such as pensions and 401(k)s, may require the signatures of both spouses if the designated beneficiaries are being changed prior to divorce. Even when an ex-spouse has been disinherited though a revised will, unchanged beneficiary designations may still take precedent.

Due to elective share rights, even when the process is initiated beforehand, a spouse may not be completely disinherited until the divorce proceeding has been completed. If an estate owner dies before the beneficiaries are updated, an ex-spouse may be entitled to collect any inheritance in its entirety. In order to reduce the likelihood of these circumstances, some states provide insurers with the right to assess the decedent’s marital status and relationship with the surviving relatives.

Spouses who need more information or assistance with preparing or divorce may benefit from consulting a family lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to help divorcing spouses gather all of the documentation needed for the formal trial and the negotiation process. Lawyers often serve as intermediaries or couples who are attempting to settle contentious issues outside of court, such as equitable division, spousal support and child custody.


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