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beneficiary vs surviving spouse

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Is there anything a surviving spouse can do if her now deceased husband of 20 years did not change the names of his beneficiaries from his mom and older brother to his wife. The deceased did visity his attorney and the intent prior to him dying of skin cancer, was to have his wife receive all the life insurance benefits and IRA benefits, but due to lack of time, he did not sign the will nor did he have time to change the beneficicary on his life insurance policy.

The wife has been left with just $10,000 from the IRA versus what would have been a $100,000 life insurance payout.

The surviving spouse, the former mother inlaw and brother inlaw live in Colorado?

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Not much. Even if the will had been signed, the beneficiary designations would keep those assets out of the estate, so it would not have protected you. If there are other assets that the will would have affected, it might be possible for his meeting with his lawyer to constitute a verbal will. As for the beneficiary issue, all you can do is approach the beneficiaries, inform them of your husband's true wishes, corroborated by the lawyer and the unsigned will and ask them to do the right thing. They will be free to refuse.

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It's not clear why the deceased thought he had to visit an attorney to change beneficiaries listed on an IRA or a life insurance policy. Assets with pay-on-death provisions to particular folks pass outside a probate estate. All changing would take is a phone call to the proper parties and sending in the forms.

I'm afraid the insurance policy was a private contract between the insurance party and your husband. Whomever was named on the paperwork as beneficiary is the person who gets it, regardless of intent. No, there's nothing the wife can do about this. You don't say how old this policy was, but I presume it predated the marriage (not that the husband couldn't have named these people anyway, but it's unusual for a spouse to name someone other than a spouse on such paperwork).

"The surviving spouse, the former mother inlaw and brother inlaw live in Colorado?"

I gather you meant this to be a statement vs. a question....

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Assuming premiums for the policy were paid during the marriage, the wife may have some ability to get some of the proceeds. There is case law in my state that would support that, but I don't know about CO. The wife should talk to a local probate attorney to see if there's anything that can be done.

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In Mo. the "intent" to change a will would be grounds to validate the last will. Check with an attorney, we are only speaking from our own experiences.

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If the wife can prove that she paid the insurance companies(cancelled cks from the bank), she stands to win in MO. The insurance co may be able to help with dates paid and amounts to assist the bank in finding the checks she needs.

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I was named beneficiary of life insurance and 401(k) by my sister prior to her marriage. She died unexpectedly soon after her marriage. Am I still beneficiary since she didn't change (deliberately) beneficiary?

["pamela4779" has re-submitted this question as a new thread. You can view the new thread here:

http://boards.answers.findlaw.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=1&nav=messages&webtag=FL-AnswersMB&tid=39310

- FindLaw Moderator]

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pamela4779, it's best to post your own question vs. piggyback an unrelated issue onto another's thread as a response/"answer".

In general, there's nothing a subsequent spouse can do about a 401k or life insurance policy passing to you, since those items pass by operation of contract outside of the probate estate. If they lived in a community property state, the spouse may be able to go after his CP interest in terms of reimbursement of life insurance proceeds paid from marital funds and marital contribution to 401k, but he'd have to address that with a local attorney. Meanwhile, you're free to file a claim for the insurance money with the insurance company and the 401k account with the plan administrator.

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