Transfer of benefits

Dear Atty. Peachy,

I have been separated in fact from my wife for about 8 years now. I am currently living with another woman with whom I have a 7 year old daughter. I have just realized that my estranged wife is still my life insurance and SSS beneficiary. I want to remove my wife as my beneficiary both in my life insurance and in SSS, and put my current partner and my daughter as my new beneficiaries. My friend told me that I cannot remove my estranged wife as my beneficiary. According to him, as far as the law is concerned, my estranged wife is still my legal wife and is, therefore, my beneficiary in all my life insurance and SSS insurance. I find this unfair to my new family, especially since they are the ones taking care of me and totally dependent on me. I believe that it is not right that my estranged wife who has been living a separate life from me and who is, in fact, already cohabiting with another man should remain to be my life insurance and SSS beneficiary. Can I really not remove my estranged wife as my life insurance and SSS beneficiary and put my current partner and my daughter as my new beneficiaries?

Rafael

***

Dear Rafael,

Generally, you may change your life insurance beneficiary anytime as long as the policy is in force. An individual who has secured a life insurance policy on his or her own life may designate any person as beneficiary (Section 11 of the Insurance Code), provided that such designation does not fall under the enumerations provided in Article 739 of the Civil Code.

Under Article 739 of the Civil Code, the following individuals cannot be named beneficiary of a life insurance policy:
“Art. 739. The following donations shall be void.

(1) Those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation;

(2) Those made between persons found guilty of the same criminal offense, in consideration thereof;

(3) Those made to a public officer or his wife, descendants and ascendants, by reason of his office. x x x”

Your current partner is disqualified under Article 739 of the Civil Code from being the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. There is, however, no legal prohibition in naming your daughter as the beneficiary of your insurance policy, despite the illegitimacy of her status.

As regards your SSS insurance, your current partner is likewise prohibited under the law to be your beneficiary for the same reason provided above. However, you may add your daughter as your beneficiary and make her number one in the hierarchy of your beneficiaries if you will be able to successfully remove your estranged wife as your beneficiary.

Your beneficiaries or dependents as seen on your SSS records are the rightful persons who will receive your SSS benefits. SSS will give it to them in the form of a monthly pension or lumpsum payment when you pass away. This depends on their hierarchy or order of dependents under the Social Security Act of 2018 or RA 11199. SSS follows four hierarchy or order of beneficiaries, which is categorized as primary beneficiaries, secondary beneficiaries, designated beneficiaries and legal heirs. The primary beneficiaries of a member are the legitimate dependent spouse until he or she remarries, the dependent legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted, and illegitimate children, who are not yet 21 years old.

You may change your beneficiaries by accomplishing and submitting SSS Form 3-4 or the Member Data Change Request Form. You may change one beneficiary or completely change all the names in your list. Your request should, however, be supported by documents, depending on the nature of the change. For example, if you want to add your daughter as beneficiary, you must submit a copy of her birth certificate, indicating that you are his father and showing that she is not yet 21 years old. As I have mentioned above, in order for your daughter to be able to receive the benefits from your SSS insurance, however, you should be able to successfully remove your estranged wife as your beneficiary as she is still currently your number one beneficiary under the SSS hierarchy of beneficiaries. In order to effect this change, you should submit supporting documents showing that while your estranged wife is still validly married to you, she is no longer your dependent as she is already cohabiting with another man.

Atty. Peachy Selda-Gregorio


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