Some states automatically void beneficiary designations when spouses divorce, regardless of whether the spouses waived their rights to these benefits during the divorce. For example, in Texas, the provision designating a spouse as the beneficiary of the other's life insurance policy is automatically void upon the couple's divorce. However, waivers do not bind plan administrators who are required to distribute benefits according to beneficiary designations. In light of the Supreme Court decision in Hillman v. Maretta, state laws that automatically void beneficiary designations upon divorce may not be binding on administrators, particularly if the account or policy is governed by federal rules. Former spouses must revoke these designations to ensure that benefits will not be paid to an ex-spouse upon death. Additionally, many states, including California and Texas, have laws that automatically revoke gifts made in a will to a former spouse upon divorce, but not all do, so it may also be necessary for former spouses to update their wills after divorce.
- Nancy R. Van Tine, Massachusetts Divorce Law Monitor: Does Your Ex-Spouse Inherit Your Estate If You Unexpectedly Die?
- Texas Legislature Online, Texas Constitution and Statutes: Family Code, Title 1, Subtitle C, Chapter 9, Subchapter A. Suit to Enforce Decree
- Washington Post: Will the Widow or the Ex-Wife Get the Money? Supreme Court to Decide
- SCOTUS Blog: Hillman v. Maretta
- Nolo: Revising Your Estate Plan After Divorce
- Shutt Law Firm: Does Ex-Spouse Inherit From My Will After The Divorce?
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