Abingdon, MD asked in Family Law for Maryland

Q: Ex-husband died recently. Had been married for 30 years. Am I entitled to any of his life/ins. or pen? I was not a bene.

There was nothing included in the divorce decree about life insurance or pension benefits. There are two adult children.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Upon divorce, your rights under any existing will would have terminated. While Maryland does not have a law in place that automatically terminates an ex-spouse's designation as a beneficiary under a life insurance policy, some states have such laws (New York, e.g.), so if your divorce was obtained in one of those states, that is a possible result. However, once divorced, your ex-spouse can change all the beneficiary designations to name someone else, but if he left you on the life insurance as a beneficiary, then you would receive the distribution. As for pensions, the time to have addressed your interest in the pension was before, not after, the gavel came down on your divorce. You had a marital interest, and a pension order could have been issued to award you a marital share of the pension. You will need to review your divorce decree and any property settlement agreement to determine what, if any, pension benefits were awarded. If none, then unless your ex voluntarily kept you on as a named beneficiary or provided for a survivor annuity without you knowing it, then you will have no claim. On the other hand, if you were awarded an interest in his pension, by court decree or by agreement incorporated into the decree, you may still have time to return to court to obtain the necessary pension order to serve on the plan administrator of the pension to secure your benefits.

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