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First Wife as Beneficiary

My father took out a life insurance policy when he was married to my mother and naturally my mother was named the beneficiary. They subsequently got divorced and my father remarried and had several more children. The insurance company in America notified my mother that there was a policy available for her to collect, which she had either not known or forgotten about. When the insurance company found out that my parents were divorced, they then seemed hesitant about releasing the money to her. The question is who is halachically considered to be the rightful recipient of the money?

Thank you so much


Halachah will not have a say in changing the beneficiary: Because the policy was made out to your father’s mother, she remains the beneficiary, and the money will in principle go to her.

If there is something in the law that changes the beneficiary after divorce, the law will define the change of the beneficiary, and this will be binding even according to halachah. However, if the law is silent on this matter, the beneficiary remains your mother, and she can do with the money as she sees fit — though it might be ethically proper to give some to your father’s current family.

Best wishes.

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