A Virginia law can't override a federal employee's decision to make his ex-wife, not his wife, his beneficiary in a federal insurance program, the Virginia Supreme Court said.
Warren Hillman made Judy Maretta beneficiary of his Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance policy before their divorce and his re-marriage to Jacqueline Hillman. He never changed his beneficiary designation, and Maretta got the money after his death.
The second wife sued, but the Virginia Supreme Court said the first wife gets the money since her name was on the form.
Virginia law revokes a beneficiary designation in favor of the current spouse. But Maretta argued it was pre-empted by federal law saying named beneficiaries get the money.
The high court agreed in a unanimous judgment.