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The Divorce Encyclopedia

Term Definition Beneficiary - a person who benefits from anotherís act or action, such as a will, insurance, and annuity.
Application in Divorce At the time of divorce, many spouses will either draft a will or amend an existing will, because he or she no longer desires to have an ex-spouse as a beneficiary of any assets. It is very important to notify all retirement account administrators and insurance companies regarding the divorce, so new beneficiaries can be elected. Postponing this will be disastrous if an untimely death does occur.

In child support orders, the payor will often take out a life insurance policy, naming the child(ren) as the beneficiaries. This financially protects the child(ren) if he or she dies before they reach the age of majority. Some states make this mandatory, if the payor is insurable.

The above child-support scenario can also be easily applied to any spousal support order to achieve similar financial protection.

Upon divorce, the property distribution award can often include one spouse getting a portion of another spouse’s retirement account. This does not occur until the plan holder reaches the age of retirement according the plan, so receiving this asset is postponed to the future. As with many plans, the alternate payee will not receive any portion when the plan holder dies. This being said, it can be a significant risk if proper life insurance is not taken out with the alternate payee as the beneficiary.

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