In our divorce settlement eight years ago, my ex-husband agreed to maintain life insurance policies, with me as the beneficiary. When I called the insurers a couple of years later, a representative accidentally revealed that my ex had replaced my name with his second wife's name as beneficiary. When I confronted him on this, he put my name back on the policies. How can I be sure this doesn't happen again? I don't own the policies, so the insurer won't give me information. How can I make sure he continues to pay the premiums? If he died with his second wife as beneficiary, what recourse would I have?
In that case, you could sue his estate. But obviously, it's better to make sure it doesn't happen.
There are two ways to do that, says Steven J. Eisman, a Lake Success matrimonial lawyer. You can modify your divorce agreement by adding a paragraph that authorizes the insurer to notify you of any changes in the policies' premium payments, beneficiary designations and death benefits. Or your ex-husband can sign a new document authorizing the insurance company to keep you informed.
A modification of the divorce agreement must be signed by a judge, says Eisman. It may be simpler to get an authorization from your ex-husband, which requires only his signature. Tell him he has already shown he can't be trusted and that you need the authorization to ensure he continues to honor your divorce agreement. If he balks, you can say your only alternative is to go to court to get the agreement modified -- and if you have to do that, you'll ask the judge to award you legal fees.
THE BOTTOM LINE If your divorce settlement includes life insurance, it should also authorize the insurer to keep you informed of any policy changes.
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