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Designation after divorce: account and policy beneficiaries

Surprisingly, someone may legally collect funds or inherit assets from a former spouse's estate as long as his or her name is still listed as the beneficiary. Pennsylvania couples who are separated, undergoing a divorce or already divorced may be interested to know that an updated will that indicates otherwise does not stop an ex-spouse from receiving assets as long as they are listed as the designated beneficiary.

If the divorce process has already been initiated, then an individual may have to wait until after the divorce has been finalized before he or she makes any changes regarding beneficiary designation for life insurance policies, bank and brokerage accounts, and other similar assets. Some individuals may wish to keep their ex-spouse as a beneficiary, and in these situations the spouse should still update the account or policy and re-designate their former spouse.

If an individual passes away and his or her account information was not updated, then some insurance companies allow a review of the individual's marital status and situation at the time of their death in order to give the benefits to a second beneficiary. State laws differ on how they handle situations in which an ex-spouse is still listed as a beneficiary, and some even allow a former spouse to collect these assets.

If a married couple has decided to divorce and are not sure where to begin with divorce proceedings or allocating assets and debts, consulting an attorney can be beneficial for a spouse. An attorney may be able to provide advice on how division of assets and debts between the married couple is handled and when to begin the process of updating and changing information on joint and shared accounts.

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