SW Legal studies in Business

Divorce Agreement Fixed List of Beneficiaries of Life Insurance Policy
Description Appeals court held that a divorce agreement that specified that a father's life insurance policy would list the two minor children of the marriage as the beneficiaries of his policy meant that he could not later add other beneficiaries to the policy even though the agreement did not specifically prohibit that.
Topic Insurance
Key Words Beneficiaries; Changes
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Arnold Johnson had two children by his first marriage and two children by his second marriage. When Arnold and his second wife divorced, part of the divorce decree stated that he would make "the minor children beneficiaries" of his life insurance policy. Soon before he died, Johnson changed the list of life insurance beneficiaries to include his older children from his first marriage. After his death, the insurance company asked the court to determine if the policy benefits were to be paid to the two children from the second marriage or if it should include the two children from the first marriage. The trial court held that all four children would share. The children from the second marriage appealed.
Decision

Reversed. The divorce agreement stated that "the minor children" would receive the benefits; that meant only the two children from the second marriage since they were the only minor children. Further, those two children were the only beneficiaries at the time of the agreement. Johnson could not add other beneficiaries to the policy even though the agreement did not specifically state that such a change could not be made.

Citation Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co. v. Shankles, 2001 WL 984938 (Ct. App., Tenn., 2001)

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