the widow must return the capital, the beneficiary clause had been modified by will

The modification of the beneficiary clause “does not take place, for its validity, to be brought to the attention of the insurer when it is carried out by testament”, decides the Court of Cassation. Adobe Stock

A beneficiary clause can be modified by will without the life insurer being informed.

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

Analysis of the Court of Cassation, 1D civil chamber of March 10, 2022, appeal no. 20-19.655.


When taking out a life insurance contract, a man designates his son as beneficiary or, failing that, his wife. Then he changed his mind in 1982, informing the insurer of the modification of the beneficiary clause in favor of his wife. When he died in 1990, the insurer paid the guaranteed capital to his widow. But, a few months later, the notary in charge of the succession found in the deceased a writing, dated 1987, when he was in full separation from his wife, in which he again modified his clause, in favor of of his son. The latter therefore assigns his mother for restitution of the capital. She refuses, arguing in particular…

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