Master Recommends Finding That Delaware Law Applies To One Life Insurance Policy Designation But That Pennsylvania Law—And Pennsylvania’s Revocation-Upon-Divorce Law—Applies To The Other Policy At Issue

Delaware Fiduciary Litigation Blog

Posted February 23, 2021

In the Matter of the Estate of Meredith L. Sullivan, C.A. No. 2018-0741-PWG (February 22, 2021)

        In this case, the Master was faced with these facts. Petitioner and Decedent were married 2009.  On April 13, 2018, they were divorced by a Delaware court order.  On April 23, 2018, Decedent unexpectedly died. Decedent was insured on three life insurance policies on the date of her death. Petitioner was the sole beneficiary on one of those policies and primary on another one.

        Pennsylvania has a revocation-upon-divorce law, but Delaware does not. Among other things, Respondents claimed that Decedent was domiciled in Pennsylvania at the time of her death and that, as a result, Pennsylvania law applies, meaning the former spouse’s beneficiary designation was automatically revoked. Petitioner eventually conceded that Decedent was domiciled in Pennsylvania at the time of her death.

        After noting that there were issues of first impression to be decided here, the Master applied Delaware’s choice of law analysis. In doing so, the Master examined in detail the relationship with the two states in an effort to determine the more significant one. After doing so, the Master concluded that one of the policies at issue had more significant contact with Pennsylvania and that, thus, Pennsylvania law should apply to that policy, meaning that Petitioner’s designation should be revoked. But regarding the other policy at issue, the Master concluded Delaware law applied to it. See Opinion, page 21.


William M. Kelleher, Director
Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.