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The importance of beneficiary designations in divorce

People in Charlotte who get a divorce should make sure they take their ex-spouse off beneficiary designations in a divorce even if the divorce decree says that those assets do not belong to the former spouse. If a spouse receives a payment from a beneficiary designation after agreeing in a divorce decree not to take that property, it might be possible to get the assets back, but the battle could be a long and costly one.

This was the case when a man failed to remove his uncle as beneficiary on his life insurance account even though his daughter was supposed to receive the payment in the divorce decree. A federal judge and a court of appeals upheld the divorce decree.

In another case, a man's father did not leave a will despite a promise to take care of him and his older disabled brother. The father did not change the beneficiary on his life insurance account when he got a divorce, and when he died, his ex-wife took the payment even though she had agreed in the divorce decree that it belonged to him. The son was struggling to even locate the ex-wife. While it was possible to pursue a lawsuit in this situation, there were several difficulties including the potential cost, the difficulty of finding the ex-spouse and the possibility that she had already spent the money.

It may not be legal to remove a spouse from a beneficiary designation if the divorce is not yet final, so people should check with an attorney before doing this or taking any other actions with joint assets. During the divorce process, people need to be open about their assets and debts. A person who suspects a spouse of hiding assets may want to talk to an attorney about the possibility and what steps to take.

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