In 1997, Ashley Sveen purchased a life insurance policy. Later that year, Ashley married Kaye Melin and named Melin as primary beneficiary on his life insurance policy. Sveen also named his two adult children as contingent beneficiaries.
Several years later, Minnesota amended its revocation on divorce. Sveen and Melin divorced in 2007, but Sveen never changed the beneficiary designation on his life insurance policy. After Sveen passed away in 2001, the insurance company that held the policy requested a court make a judgment on whether Melin or Sveen’s children should receive benefits from the policy.
The United States District Court of Minnesota then granted summary judgment for the Sveen children and awarded them life insurance proceeds. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded this decision. Subsequently, the court found that the policyholder’s ability to opt out of the law by redesignating his former wife as the beneficiary of the policy did not resolve the issue.