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  • Know this before disputing life insurance beneficiary
  • September 9, 2010
  • disputing a beneficiaryBy Hollie Smith

    You hired a divorce attorney, split your possessions amicably, remarried, and lived happily ever after for 30 years. Everything’s been taken care of, right? Wrong.

    Did you remember to change the beneficiary on your life insurance policy? If not, there’s a good chance your life insurance proceeds might go to your previous spouse, leaving your current partner with nothing more than a pile of bills.

    Eric Matlin, a Northbrook, Ill.-based estate planning lawyer recommends that life insurance policies should be reviewed every 3 to 5 years in order to avoid an ugly court battle later on.

    “It’s important to sit down with an attorney and reassess after a divorce, children, grandchildren, a death, getting an inheritance… even just the passage of time,” says Matlin. “Life changes.”

    But divorce isn’t the only instance a beneficiary may be disputed. What if your parents pass away and leave their insurance assets to someone you’ve never heard of? What if your spouse leaves all of their money to children from a previous marriage?

    Michael Overmann, a Chicago-based attorney, says disputing a beneficiary can be difficult, lengthy, and costly.

    “Once you add up attorney fees and court costs, it can be years before the dispute is resolved,” says Overmann. “A person might have a case if they can prove forgery, lack of capacity, or undue influence when choosing the beneficiary, but the key is proving it. The person could have really intended to name the person beneficiary.”

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