"Divorce is such a hard thing to go through," Ruttenberg says. "Once everything is done you want to forget about it."

Painful consequences

But hard as it is, simple oversights can have painful consequences for loved ones later.

"Don't rely on state laws to protect you because they can't protect you in all cases," Ruttenberg says.

It pays to double-check your policies.

Goldberg says when he meets with new clients he reviews their beneficiary designations, even when clients say everything is up-to-date.

"Every once in a while, they're mistaken and an ex-spouse is named," he says.

Jason Holloway, a Stokes Lawrence family law attorney, encourages clients to communicate with their families about estate decisions and life insurance beneficiaries, although he acknowledges that's not always easy.

"You're talking about money, about dying and [in some cases] divorce." Still, he says, "I try to encourage clients to have conversations with their families."

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