the widow must return the principal, the benefit clause had been amended by will

A benefit clause can be amended by will without ensuring that it is informed.

When the holder of the life insurance contract dies, the capital certainly goes to the designated beneficiary, but which one? The latest known to the insurer? Or the one who was later laid down in a will, discovered after death?

Analysis of the Court of Cassation, 1re Civil Chamber of March 10, 2022, Appeal No. 20-19,655.

The facts

At the time of taking out a life insurance policy, a man designates his son or, failing that, his wife as the beneficiary. Then he changed his mind in 1982, informing the insurer of the change in the benefit clause in favor of his wife. When he died in 1990, the insurer therefore paid the guaranteed capital to his widow. Moreover, a few months later, the notary in charge of the succession found in the deceased a letter, dated 1987, while he was in the middle of separation from his wife, in which he modified his clause again, in benefit of his son. The latter therefore assigns his mother in return of the capital. Celle-ci refuses, arguing in particular…

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