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Woman sues after her husbands ex-wife gets life insurance

A woman in another state filed a lawsuit after her husband neglected to change his life insurance policy. After the man's death, his wife found out that he never changed the beneficiary on his life insurance policy, which listed his ex-wife. Therefore, his life insurance payout was sent to his ex-wife instead of his widow.

The woman sued his ex-wife, saying that she was not entitled to the life insurance payout. The Supreme Court will now decide who should receive the nearly $125,000 payment. This case raised a debate as to which laws, state laws or federal laws should be looked at in making this decision. The case also highlights the need for people to look at their insurance policies and entire estate plans after major life changes.

People should check their estate plans periodically to make sure they are still in line with their wishes, but they should be especially vigilant in making changes if they divorce or if there is a death in the family that might affect their estate plan. An attorney can work with a person to revise the documents or make entirely new documents to prevent confusion.

If a person's wishes are not clear when they pass away, the decision as to how an estate is distributed might be left up to the courts, as a person's wishes could be considered unknown. When a person neglects to precisely name heirs to certain assets, families may not be able to agree on who should get different parts of an estate, resulting in family conflict.

Source: The Washington Post, "Will the widow or the ex-wife get the money? Supreme Court to decide," Diana Reese, April 22, 2013

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