Sometimes, while going through a divorce, it can feel like there are a thousand steps you need to take. Between all the decisions you have to make, negotiating over every piece of marital property and all the paperwork you need to sign, it can be a relief when it’s over (as sad as completing your divorce can be).
Fortunately, Virginia’s divorce laws take care of one thing for you. When the court issues your final divorce decree, your ex is automatically removed as the beneficiary of your death benefits. That means they will not receive your life insurance benefit or the remainder of your retirement accounts, for example — unless you specifically agree to keep them as the beneficiary.
Exceptions and second thoughts
There are exceptions. For example, because 401(k)s operate under federal law, and federal law does not provide for automatic beneficiary revocation, your divorce does not take them off your 401(k) as a beneficiary.
Also, you might have reasons to keep your ex as your beneficiary. Many co-parents want to leave their life insurance to their exes to help them pay for the children’s needs, in case they die suddenly when the kids are still young. Or it could be part of the property division agreement, maybe in exchange for reduced spousal support.
It is good to know that you will not have to worry about accidentally leaving something to your ex after you die. But letting the law take its course without careful consideration can have its own negative consequences for your family. You and your attorney can go over these issues together to make sure the matter is settled reasonably.