Drafting a Will? Watch out for Beneficiary Designations Made Prior to Divorce or Annulment

Despite a legislative effort to make changes in beneficiary designations automatic on annulment or divorce, estate planning and divorce attorneys are still tasked with advising clients regarding beneficiary designations. 

When you die, your insurance company will pay your designated beneficiary…even if that beneficiary is your ex-spouse.  And, yes, this is true even if that means your spouse at the time of your death or your minor children are left without anything. For a while during the latest legislative session, it seemed that there would be a legislative fix to this all-too-common problem. HB0567 indicated that Title 31, Descent and Distribution, Chapter 7, TCA S. 31-7-101, et seq, would add a new chapter regarding the revocability of designations upon divorce.  Under this bill, the entry of a decree of annulment or divorce from the bond of matrimony on or after July 1, 2017, would revoke any revocable beneficiary designation contained in a then-existing written contract owned by one of the parties to the annulment or divorce that provides for the payment of any death benefit to the other party to the annulment or divorce. These changes did not make it into Public Chapter 290 as it was enacted, so lawyers should continue to make sure they advise their clients that “changing beneficiaries” should be a top post-divorce to-do item.

Post by:  Jillian Mastroianni
Jillian provides trust, estate, and tax-planning services.

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