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Ask the Life Insurance Expert

My brother died and his life insurance policy states the proceeds should go half to my sister and half to his partner, who has been his ex for over five years. Is this valid?

Yes, it’s valid. Life insurance companies must go by the beneficiaries on record. Your brother should have changed the beneficiaries listed on his life insurance policy if he wanted different people to receive the death benefit.

Unfortunately, people often forget to change beneficiaries on their life insurance policies after major life events, such as break-ups and divorces.

See Naming life insurance beneficiaries: 10 ways to screw it up.

Without a change of beneficiary by the owner of the policy, the life insurance company cannot alter who receives the proceeds when the insured dies.

Last updated: Aug. 7, 2014