Here’s What You Need to Know About Divorce and Life Insurance Policies in Michigan

When a married person takes out a life insurance policy they generally name their spouse as the policy's beneficiary. But what happens when such a couple gets divorced? Often times the policy holding spouse will simply alter the terms of their life insurance policy once their divorce is finalized in order to name someone other than their now ex-spouse (perhaps a child or a parent) as the new policy beneficiary. This is fairly straight forward, but be warned that things can get a bit complicated when a couple's divorce settlement contains provisions pertaining to life insurance matters. This article provides a brief overview of a couple common life insurance complications that couples divorcing in Michigan should be aware of.

Judgments of Divorce Ordering One Spouse to Provide Life Insurance to the Other

Sometimes a divorce settlement (commonly referred to as a "Judgment of Divorce" in Michigan) will contain a provision requiring one spouse to provide life insurance to their former spouse for a set period of time after their divorce is finalized. Family law judges in Michigan sometimes include such a provision in order to provide security for child and/or spousal support in case the paying spouse dies prematurely. But what happens if the spouse who is required to provide life insurance fails to name their former spouse as the beneficiary under the policy as their Judgment of Divorce required them to do? According to the U.S. Supreme Court case Egelhoff v. Egelhoff, if the life insurance providing spouse died before changing the beneficiary designated under their policy in accordance with the terms of their Judgment of Divorce then after his/her passing the proceeds of their life insurance policy will be distributed in accordance with the policy's documents.

Judgments of Divorce Waiving Spouse A's Interest in Spouse B's Life Insurance

Additionally, sometimes a Judgment of Divorce will stipulate that one spouse waives their interest in their former spouse's life insurance policy. But what happens if a divorcing couples makes such an agreement and then the spouse who holds the life insurance policy fails to name a new beneficiary under the policy and dies with their ex-spouse (the one who previously waived their interest in the policy) still named as the beneficiary? According to the Michigan Court of Appeals case In Estate of Rowley v. Mac Innes, the former spouse who is the designated beneficiary under the life insurance policy will not be able to collect proceeds from the policy because they previously waived their interest.

Need Legal Advice?


When a couple gets divorced they often have so many pressing issues to attend to that seemingly secondary matters such a updating life insurance policies are often overlooked. Here at the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins we take care to make sure that all every "i" has been dotted and that every "t" has been crossed so that our divorce clients can walk away from their marriages with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their affairs are in order. To find out what the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins can do for you contact our Bloomfield Hills office today at (248) 646-7980.