– from Judith P. in Fox Point, WI

Question Details:

My son passed away one year after his divorce. He never changed the beneficiary on his life insurance policy to me. Although that is what he wanted, he never got around to doing it. We always believed there would be plenty of time, you know? He told me, his mother, that he did not want his ex-wife to collect on his life insurance if anything should ever happen to him. Through this period of grief, I want to be sure that I can give him a proper funeral. I can't afford it on my own. Can I collect the insurance knowing that is what he wanted so I can give him a proper burial?

Family Law Attorney Response:

First off, I would like to say that I'm sorry for your loss. I can only imagine what you are going through right now. That makes this second part difficult. Unless he put it in writing, there may not be a lot you can do at this point. If his wife is listed as the primary beneficiary, she is the individual who can legally collect on the policy.

In the case of Bersch v. Van Kleeck, 112 Wis. 2d 594, 334 N.W.2d 114 (1983), a similar situation was brought before the court. A man had passed due to an accident about 15 months after his divorce and never changed the primary beneficiary to his father. His father moved to collect, but it was ultimately ruled that the ex-wife was the legal beneficiary.

My advice would be to contact a family law attorney in order to go over the specifics of your case. Provide any documentation you may have pertaining to your claim, and any details that may help.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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