My ex died. Will any of his assets come to me?


Q. I was married for 21 years. When I divorced my husband, he had been in prison for trying to kill me so I asked for nothing in the divorce because I was afraid of him. I only had an attorney the court appointed. He died in August and somehow my adult daughter got all the money from his death benefits and pension. Does this sound like a normal situation?
— Divorced

A. It’s certainly not abnormal.

And unfortunately for you, there’s probably nothing you can do.

Divorced spouses are not entitled to benefits upon death unless the benefits were part of a property settlement agreement or judgment of divorce, or if the spouse left something to their ex in a will, said Catherine Romania, an estate planning attorney with Witman Stadtmauer in Florham Park.

“If there is no will, and your ex-husband never remarried, his children are his nearest next of kin and would inherit under the intestacy statute,” she said. “You may want to investigate if you are eligible for Social Security benefits, as benefits may possibly be paid to a divorced spouse age 60 or older based upon the earnings of the deceased spouse.”

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This story was originally published April 19, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.

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