You’ve experienced a heartbreaking loss. I understand why you want to be sure that your ex-husband didn’t profit off the death of your son, especially since he’s led a lavish lifestyle while you struggled as a single parent.
To take out a life insurance policy on someone else, you need to have an insurable interest in their life. What this means is that you’d suffer financial harm in the event of their death. Parents are presumed to have an insurable interest in the lives of their minor children. In fact, some parents and grandparents buy whole life insurance for infants as a hybrid savings vehicle and insurance policy.
Spouses are also presumed to have an insurable interest in each other’s lives. Ex-spouses do as well in some cases. For example, some divorce decrees will require an ex-spouse to buy life insurance and make the other person the beneficiary if they’ve been ordered to pay child support or alimony. But to buy life insurance on an adult, you also need their knowledge and consent.
Essentially, here’s what all this means for you and your kids: There’s a chance your ex could have taken out life insurance on your children when they were minors. But he would have needed their permission to buy a policy on them as adults. As for you, he wouldn’t have been allowed to buy insurance on your life unless you consented to it or it was ordered as part of a divorce settlement.
There’s always the small chance your ex-husband could have taken out a fraudulent policy. If you suspect that this occurred, you can contact your state’s insurance bureau or use the MIB’s website to search for a policy in your name. (MIB is an insurance consumer reporting agency previously known as the Medical Information Bureau.)
Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like you have much recourse for getting money out of your ex-husband after 38 years. But if he failed to make court-ordered child support or alimony payments, it may be worth consulting with a family attorney.
Also, since you say your ex is wealthy, you may be able to collect more Social Security based on his record, rather than your own. The fact that he has remarried is irrelevant. If your marriage lasted at least 10 years and you’re not married, this could be an option.
It doesn’t sound like you have any reason to be involved with your ex-husband if your kids are all adults. Try to limit the information you receive about him and his second wife. Resist the urge to Google them or look them up on social media if you can. What you find will only make you angry. If your children have any contact with them, you can ask that they only relay information on a need-to-know basis.
As hard as this is, I think you need to let go of any hope that this man will make you financially whole. You stepped up for your children and did the job of two parents. I hope you take pride in that.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.