Can irrevocable beneficiary be changed?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 05/10/2009 - 10:54

My divorce settlement named me irrevocable beneficiary of my ex husband life insurance to cover specefic financial obligation due to me. After financial obligaions were met the policy would go to our children wwho are now adults. Ex-husband died and the life insurance policy naming me beneficiary is no longer. He took out a new policy naming his girlfriend. None of my financial obligations were met. I just found out and hope it is not too late to contest if she has already been paid out.

Posted: 09 May 2009 05:52 Post Subject: Being named as irrevocable beneficiary isn't enough....

This is an old thread, but since it has been resurrected...(i moved it to it's own thread, since it is a new topic entirely :wink:-lori )
"Insurable interest" is between the owner and the insured. Most people get confused with this concept and think that it's between the insured and the beneficiary.

An insurance company doesn't have to honor any beneficiary designation at time of application. For instance, if you did name a stranger as your beneficiary, the insurance company would most likely deny your application. The easy way around this is to simply change the beneficiary designation after the policy is issued. The insurance company would then have no choice but to honor it.

Temmi, based upon this little bit of information, I would question the competency of your attorney. Being named as an irrevocable beneficiary wasn't enough assurance for you to get paid at the end.

Your ex could have immediately canceled that life insurance policy and you would have had no way of knowing. That is very possibly what he did. You should have been the owner of that policy.

Posted: 10 May 2009 11:01 Post Subject:

temmi, I would think your only recourse would be to get an attorney and fight this, because you have a court order has placed you as an irrevocable beneficiary to his policy, stating his life insurance was to cover specefic financial obligationd due to me.

Will you get anything? who knows and certainly a long shot, actually I'd call the divorce lawyer I had and see what he thinks....Were there any assets (other than life insurance) that your ex left behind? If so then 'maybe' you could pursue your remedy that way...What a mess...I have to agree that your attorney dropped the ball on this one...he/she should've done a better job of protecting you.

Couple of questions....how long ago were you divorced? and how long after that did your ex pass away? Did the kids get anything, or were they named on any policy, house, cars anything? How much was this prior policy and how much was due you under the divorce settlement re: cover specefic financial obligationd due to me?

Posted: 10 May 2009 11:22 Post Subject:

Agent error, improper policy ownership.

Temmi, in a divorse situation the wife should be named the "owner" AND the beneficiary of the policy.

If you don't own the policy then you don't control the policy.

The girlfriend gets the proceeds from the new policy.

There is nothing you can do about this.

By the way, please don't take my words as being harsh. I'm ALWAYS skeptical of someone who isn't getting the money who now wants the money.

People change when poeple die.

Posted: 10 May 2009 01:43 Post Subject:

Gary, the reason why I'm saying that it's more likely attorney error than agent error is that it sounds as if this is a policy that was already in force. Therefore, when the agent handled this, it was not a divorce situation.

Posted: 10 May 2009 02:33 Post Subject:

Perhaps.

OP did write:
my divorce settlement named me irrevocable beneficiary of my ex husband life insurance to cover specefic financial obligationd due to me.

Divorce "settlements" don't change or control the insurance policy contract itself. Also judges tend to get a "God" complex when ordering life insurance.

I've had judges court order life insurance on persons who are uninsurable.

True story.

Posted: 10 May 2009 05:18 Post Subject:

Perhaps.

OP did write:
my divorce settlement named me irrevocable beneficiary of my ex husband life insurance to cover specefic financial obligationd due to me.

Divorce "settlements" don't change or control the insurance policy contract itself. Also judges tend to get a "God" complex when ordering life insurance.

I've had judges court order life insurance on persons who are uninsurable.

True story.



Because he wrote exactly what you said that he wrote is why I think we're talking about attorney and not agent error. All that the agent did was write a policy on a married couple. Obviously the divorce settlement did nothing to change the policy. It stated what the husband must do with the policy. The attorney should have insisted on the policy being changed so that the ex-wife was the owner. This would have ensured that the ex could not drop the policy like he did without her knowledge.

Posted: 10 May 2009 05:20 Post Subject:

Better hire a good attorny. But one can change beneficiary any time.



An irrevocable beneficiary can't be changed, thus the term "irrevocable".
The problem in this case is that an irrevocable beneficiary doesn't stop one from dropping a policy.

Posted: 11 May 2009 07:13 Post Subject: Changing irrevocable beneficiary: Isn't it a violation?

Guys, isn't something mentioned in the divorce document a legal binding? I mean if the husband was asked by the court to keep the wife as the beneficiary of the policy, hasn't he violated the law by changing the beneficiary status afterward?

Posted: 11 May 2009 09:56 Post Subject:

Considering that things were set up in such a way that nobody was going to find out about what he did until after he died, does it really matter?

Posted: 11 May 2009 10:06 Post Subject:

Human nature and common sense should tell you that a man isn't going to have a burning desire to pay for life insurance for his EX-WIFE.

Does one really need to hold an insurance license to understand that?

Guys, isn't something mentioned in the divorce document a legal binding?


Yes, it's legally enforcable to a point. You can't force or court order a life insurance company to offer an uninsurable person life insurance.

I mean if the husband was asked by the court to keep the wife as the beneficiary of the policy, hasn't he violated the law by changing the beneficiary status afterward?


He'd be in contempt of a court order but if the wife doesn't go back to court to enforce her rights then nothing happens. All this takes money most couples don't have.

Posted: 11 May 2009 10:59 Post Subject:

I agree this was likely an oversight on the OP's divorce attorney's part...Clearly the policy was enforce at the divorce. It was her attorneys job to ensure his client was protected...(ie change the policy's ownership)...which he/she clearly did not do.

I'm not so sure that dead ex husband can get 'away' with not meeting the financial obligation he was ordered to pay by way of part of his life ins. If his estate has any money, she may be able to pursue it that way..

Another avenue may be (albeit extreme) malpractice against her own attorney.

Posted: 13 May 2009 01:55 Post Subject: insurance

my divorce settlement named me irrevocable beneficiary of my ex husband life insurance

Here's a new term for me...Irrevocable. Can one of you knowledgable Insurance Agents please explkain what this means? I know what a Beneficiary is, but...I'm gonna need help on THIS one. Thanks. :roll:

Posted: 13 May 2009 10:24 Post Subject:

Something that is irrevocable can't be revoked. It can't be taken back. It can't be changed. If I own a policy with you as an irrevocable beneficiary, I lose my ability to change the beneficiary.

Posted: 13 May 2009 11:26 Post Subject:

irrevocable beneficiary means beneficiary in life insurance policy contract whose compensation cannot be changed without his or her consent. First thing you need to do is intimate insurance company and then get in touch with your attorney.

Posted: 13 May 2009 11:35 Post Subject:

the term "irrevocable" in any use means you cannot change it...

Posted: 14 May 2009 01:43 Post Subject:

lol...where is Webster when you need him? I would go for the estate and a new atty. Malpractice may be a little harder. I would think this would definatley an atty opinion and help.

Posted: 14 May 2009 02:51 Post Subject: insurance

So........let me get this straight. If the OP has THIS kind of Beneficiary on an EX's Life Insurance,..this means the EX CANNOT change it without some kind of court 'okeying' it? Do I understand this correctly?

Posted: 14 May 2009 10:17 Post Subject:

The court would actually have to order the life insurance company to make the change.

Ex. You have been made the irrevocable beneficiary on your husband's life insurance as part of your divorce settlement. Many years later, there is a change in your agreement and your husband doesn't need to keep you as the beneficiary. He still won't be able to remove you because the beneficiary designation can't be revoked, so the life insurance company will not allow the change.

In reality, I have never seen an irrevocable beneficiary designation. There are better ways to handle this issue. It's usually handled through either a change of ownership, or an absolute assignment.

With an absolute assignment, the owner can't make any policy changes without agreement from the person to whom the policy is being assigned.

Posted: 14 May 2009 10:50 Post Subject:

I would think this would definatley an atty opinion and help.

I agree, 'if' the amount he owed her (that was to be paid from the life policy) is worth it..

If the OP has THIS kind of Beneficiary on an EX's Life Insurance,..this means the EX CANNOT change it without some kind of court 'okeying' it? Do I understand this correctly?

Yes, apparently it was court ordered in her divorce decree however, he got around it by keeping her as beneficary, but canceling the policy and getting a new one.. :x And then making his new girl friend beneficary. He was a slippery fox it appears..

Posted: 14 May 2009 05:52 Post Subject:

That is why an absolute assignment or a change of ownership needs to be done instead.

We also have to keep in mind that a court order saying that he can't change the beneficiary is not the same thing as a irrevocable beneficiary. If it's the former, he could ignore the court order and still change the beneficiary. If it's the latter, he can't change the beneficiary, even if the court says that he can.

Posted: 18 Aug 2009 08:36 Post Subject: irrevocable trust

I am a beneficiary of an irrevocable trust. It is mostly land.. is there anyway to borrow against it?? :?:

Posted: 18 Aug 2009 11:09 Post Subject:

I am a beneficiary of an irrevocable trust. It is mostly land.. is there anyway to borrow against it??

It would depend upon the terms of the trust..However I would be very surprised...

Posted: 19 Aug 2009 03:07 Post Subject: insurance

I don't think, unless the person passed away, the beneficiary can barrow aqainst it. Yea.....I do agree with LORI about this guy being pretty sneaky.

Posted: 19 Aug 2009 03:16 Post Subject:

[quote]I am a beneficiary of an irrevocable trust. It is mostly land.. is there anyway to borrow against it??[/quote

Yes. No. Maybe. It is possible that a bank will give you a loan because they know that you will get this land and thus will have the ability to pay them back.

Is this a trust in which you will get the assets next month or is it one in which you will get the assets 10 years after your 42 year old mother dies?

It's all in the details.

Posted: 19 Aug 2009 03:22 Post Subject: insurance

INSURANCEEXPERT........I was asssuming this (and the OTHER thread/posts) were about Life Insurance, as well. :oops:

Posted: 19 Aug 2009 03:38 Post Subject:

Since here he said that it is mostly land, I'm assuming that he's not talking about a life insurance trust.

Posted: 24 Aug 2009 11:40 Post Subject: Irrevocable Beneficiary

I see these problems many times in my practice Attorneys do what they do...The make divorce settlements and many times fail to follow up on needed changes...I meet many times with ex-spouses that say their divorce settlement gives them part of a retirement account however all it is a settlement. the financial institution will not be bound by that...The attorney needs to draft the QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) to the satisfaction of the releasing company and have it signed by the Judge even that isn't enough because if it isn't forwarded to the financial firm nothing happens the same as this policy, ownership of the policy should have been changed to the ex-spouse.

Posted: 29 Jul 2010 06:07 Post Subject: irrevocable

what if the spouse remarries and wants to pur his new wife on policy

Posted: 31 Jul 2010 02:58 Post Subject:

If the beneficiary is irrevocable, they have to sign off on the change. If not, then the owner of the policy can change it.

Posted: 31 Jul 2010 10:42 Post Subject: insurance

"Sign off on the change?"......are you talking about the CURRENT Beneficiary and the owner of the policy?

Posted: 01 Aug 2010 01:56 Post Subject:

An irrevocable beneficiary has a "vested interest" in the contract of insurance. They can only be removed with their written consent, or by their death.

If a beneficiary is not irrevocable, then it may be changed at any time by the policyowner.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010 02:40 Post Subject:

"Sign off on the change?"......are you talking about the CURRENT Beneficiary and the owner of the policy?



If the beneficiary of the life policy is irrevocable then yes, they have to consent to being removed as the beneficiary. The owner would have to "consent" to a change, but the owner would most like be the person making the change.

If the beneficiary is not an irrevocable beneficiary thant there is no consent on their behalf needed to remove them as beneficiary, or change their status as beneficiary (e.g. moved from primary to secondary, or have another beneficiary added that they then share the benefit proceeds with).

Posted: 01 Aug 2010 01:10 Post Subject: insurance

So.........if the Irrevocable Beneficiary does NOT consent, then is there something the owner of the policy do to remove them? I'm sure this has to be some kind of specific circumstance to do this, however.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010 02:13 Post Subject:

Correct, if the irrevocable benficiary does not consent, then the owner cannot remove them, or make beneficiary changes that effect their rights to the death benefit.

In addition to this, the irrevocable beneficiary would receive notice of lapse or potential lapse due to non premium payments.

The most common circumstance for this arrangement is typically a divorce situation where a spouse needs to buy life insurance and name the ex spouse the beneficiary. This would ensure that the beneficiary is not taken off the policy and can ensure that the policy remains in force for the required period of time.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010 11:52 Post Subject:

So.........if the Irrevocable Beneficiary does NOT consent, then is there something the owner of the policy do to remove them?



Other than by their written consent, the only way an irrevocable beneficiary can be removed by the owner of the policy is as the result of their death.

For the policyowner to "be involved" in that could be a crime.

Posted: 02 Aug 2010 11:49 Post Subject: insurance

I'm sure you have heard 'horror stories' on how people try to 'remove' OTHER people from Insurance policies. Or..how far (I.E..) spouses will go to get their 'other halfs' Insurance money. Being in the Military, I hear it ALOT. It's sad. The Service Member has served our country and their spouses were involved in their deaths..somehow. The Army Times has alot of those 'horror stories'. :(

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 04:04 Post Subject:

Stop hack the program!!!

Posted: 17 Feb 2011 10:12 Post Subject: Irrevocable Beneficiary

What can be done if there is elder abuse going on, and the irrevocable beneficiary is the one who is doing the elder abuse? Can the beneficiary be changed?

Posted: 17 Feb 2011 02:05 Post Subject:

If you are in California, matters involving elder financial abuse are investigated and prosecuted by the local county district attorney's office. Contact them for assistance.

Cannot speak for other states, as I believe only California has a true elder financial abuse law (I could certainly be mistaken on this).

Irrevocable beneficiaries are nearly impossible to remove, but if declared to be "disqualified" as the result of criminal intent/activity, then the policy's beneficiary would revert to the estate or a named contingent beneficiary.

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 06:32 Post Subject: beneficiary of a CD account

I am the beneficiary of a CD account (POD) paid on death. The owner of the account has deceased. I have in my possession the original copy of the CD, but when I went to the bank to check on the account, they couldn't find a record of it. What would you suggest that I do?

Posted: 06 May 2011 12:17 Post Subject:

Sorry for not seeing this sooner.

Your remedy lies in the bank's regulator -- they are either regulated by the state or by the federal government's Comptroller of the Currency.

For the bank not to have any record of this account is beyond comprehension, but not unbelievable. After all, they continue to make money on the liability until it goes off the books. The longer they can stall, the more money they make. If this turns out to be a "general business practice" (which is prohibited), you could be in line for additional damages.

What would you suggest that I do?



Determine who the regulator is and file a formal complaint.

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 04:14 Post Subject: irrevocable beneficiary

my mother and father had a life insurance policy on my father with a irrevocable beneificiary as my mother i was put on as contingent beneficiary...my mom died in 2008 and my father changed the contingent beneficiary and the beneficiary...it was to my understanding you need the beneficiary's signature to change and irrevocable policy....is that null and void if the beneficary dies before the insured??

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 03:02 Post Subject:

Should be, but insurance law is more state specific, so you'd be wise to check with someone in the state of NJ. I'd go to the Dept of Insurance and ask. Again, now that the irrevocable beneficiary is deceased, changes should be allowable so long as you were never named an irrevocable beneficiary.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011 06:24 Post Subject:

When an irrevocable primary beneficiary dies, the policyowner is free to name a new primary beneficiary. The new beneficiary does not need to be irrevocable. A contingent beneficiary is not usually named as an irrevocable beneficiary. But even if they were, the primary beneficiary could lawfully be changed without their permission or knowledge, because a contingent beneficiary is not automatically elevated to primary during the lifetime of the insured. A contingent beneficiary is only in line to receive money if there is no surviving primary beneficiary at the time of the insured's death.

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 12:07 Post Subject: Life ins policies thru work

if your spouse is covered for life insurance thru work, can I be made the irrevocable beneficiary and "owner" of the policy? I realize it would only be good if my spouse is still working for the company should something happen. I'm in the process of working with legal counsel to put together a proposal in preparation of filing divorce papers. (we are separated)

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 05:50 Post Subject:

I realize it would only be good if my spouse is still working for the company should something happen.

If this is group insurance, neither you nor your (about to be ex-) husband can be the policyowner. That privilege belongs to the employer.

I'm in the process of working with legal counsel to put together a proposal in preparation of filing divorce papers. (we are separated)

You don't mention what state is involved, but it really doesn't matter if the policy is governed by ERISA. A group policy governed under ERISA is controlled by the Summary Plan Description, not state insurance laws.

To become, in effect, the irrevocable beneficiary, your divorce order would have to grant you that status, and then the Plan administrator would have to be served with a copy of that document. Even so, the Administrator may not have to abide by the state court order, which could allow your husband to change the beneficiary after the divorce is final.

A recent appellate court decision could, however, give you the right AFTER the insurance payment was made to another beneficiary, to sue that beneficiary for the value of the proceeds, not the insurance company.

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 09:04 Post Subject: irrevocable beneficiary

my husband named me an irrevocable beneficiary. I have found out that the policy was recently terminated for non payment. Will the company notify me of this offiially? What can I do about it?

Posted: 19 Oct 2013 03:37 Post Subject:

I have found out that the policy was recently terminated for non payment.

And how did you come to know this?

Will the company notify me of this offiially?

Does the insurance company have your contact information? If not, how would you expect them to locate you?

What can I do about it?

The answer to this question depends on whether there was a legal order for you to be named irrevocable beneficiary of the policy, such as a condition of granting a divorce or other legal judgment.

If there was no "legal" requirement to name you the beneficiary, there is no legal recourse for what the policyowner has a right to do. An irrevocable beneficiary may not be changed without the irrevocable's written consent. But the irrevocable beneficiary cannot interfere with the owner's rights in the contract that are not a legal obligation.

And even then, if you did have such an order, it is your responsibility to file that order with the insurance company.

Posted: 19 Oct 2013 05:46 Post Subject: Irrevocable Beneficiary

1) I was told by family.2) They do have my contact information.
3) It was ordered by the judge and is in the divorce papers
4) The insurance company representative I contacted told me the company has no obligation to notify me.
5)The company is American Mayflower Life

Posted: 20 Oct 2013 12:04 Post Subject:

3) It was ordered by the judge and is in the divorce papers

Did you ever file a copy of the divorce order with the insurance company with instructions to notify you if any attempt to alter or terminate the policy was made? Do you know if you were actually made the irrevocable beneficiary? The policyowner has to do that -- the divorce order cannot do it for you.

4) The insurance company representative I contacted told me the company has no obligation to notify me.

Unless you have instructed the insurance company to do so, this is correct. As the irrevocable beneficiary, you have some influence over what happens to the policy, but you are not the owner. You can prevent the owner from doing certain things, such as borrowing from the cash value or terminating the policy, which is what is happening.

You have a couple of options. First, you can arrange to pay the past due premiums and have the policy reinstated. Then you can march back into court and demand to be compensated for your loss (the premiums paid) and have the court reinforce the order to keep the policy in force. This is a "contempt of court" issue, and the court can order a variety of remedies.

What should have happened when your divorce was being handled, something most attorneys do not understand, is the OWNERSHIP of the policy should have been ordered to be changed to you, not the irrevocable beneficiary status, and your ex-spouse ordered to pay the premiums. As the owner, you can name yourself the beneficiary or not, because you have total control. Failure to pay premiums would result in you being notified prior to a policy lapse, and can go to court to enforce payment, which would be the same kind of contempt issue.

You should speak with the insurance company and determine what needs to happen to reinstate the policy, do that if you can, and then get a family law attorney to get you back in front of the court that has jurisdiction over your divorce order.

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