A recent discussion by the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog "Ex-Spouse Receives Bulk of Insurance Death Benefit" highlights the importance of following your attorney’s advice and updating your life insurance beneficiaries to meet changing circumstances.
In the case discussed in the blog, a man named his wife as an 83% beneficiary on the group life insurance policy he received through his employer. His children were the other beneficiaries.
After he got divorced, he never updated the policy, and the policy was not mentioned in his divorce proceedings.
When he passed away, his ex-wife refused to waive her status as a beneficiary. Under applicable law, the ex-wife could only be removed from the policy if a divorce decree specifically mandated it.
State law was no more helpful in this particular case, and the ex-wife received her share of the life insurance money.
It is important to follow the advice of your estate planning attorney and have your estate plan reviewed on a regular basis.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Feb. 15, 2017) "Ex-Spouse Receives Bulk of Insurance Death Benefit."