NOTE FROM FIELDS AND DENNIS: In Massachusetts, a divorce revokes ex-spouse beneficiary designations in both wills and non-probate transfers such as life insurance policies. The US Supreme Court has now held that a state’s revocation upon divorce statute, such as the one in Massachusetts, is constitutional.
This morning, the Supreme Court, in Sveen v. Melin, ruled that a Minnesota woman should not receive the money from her ex-husband’s life insurance policy even though she was still his beneficiary when he died in 2011, four years after their divorce. The man’s children had argued that they should get the money because a state law passed in 2002 specifies that when one spouse designates the other as his life-insurance beneficiary, that designation is automatically revoked if the couple divorces. By a vote of 8 to 1, the justices agreed, rejecting the woman’s argument that the 2002 law violates the Constitution’s contracts clause, which bars the states from enacting any laws “impairing the obligation of contracts.”
Read post here.