Question Details:

My husband was married once before, and divorced by stipulation. The stipulation stated that his daughter would be the beneficiary of his life insurance. This was many years ago. Before he died, he changed the beneficiary of his life insurance to me. He said he could do this because of the wording of the stipulation not entitling the child to exclusivity. Who is the legal beneficiary?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Honestly I would need much greater detail, and the exact wording of the stipulation. Based on only the information you have provided, the daughter is more than likely the true beneficiary. If the lack of the word “Exclusive” held any meaning, then it would imply that your husband never meant for his daughter to receive his life insurance benefits to begin with. He obviously meant for her to be the beneficiary, or he would not have named her as such. This was illustrated in the case of Duhame v. Duhame 154 Wis. 2d 258, 453 N.W.2d 149 (Ct. App. 1989). This case saw an action that was brought forth by a deceased man’s wife over insurance benefits, as well. The husband had named his children from a previous marriage as the beneficiaries in the event of death. He then changed the beneficiary to his wife before passing. Here, too, the court found no relevance in the lack of the word “Exclusive”. I would still advise you to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney for an in-depth explanation.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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