Minnesota’s statute that automatically revokes an ex-spouse’s revocable designation of the other ex-spouse as a death beneficiary of an insurance policy or pension plan does not violate the federal constitution’s Contracts Clause.  The clause does not bar all post-contracting alteration of contract rights. Here the statute does not substantially impair the contractual relationship.  The statute implements the former spouse’s presumed intent, thus supporting rather than impairing the contract.  The statute does not impair any contractual expectation at the time of contracting since spousal rights are likely to be altered by the court in a marital dissolution proceeding in any event.  And, if the ex-spouse wants to keep the other spouse as beneficiary, all he or she has to do is send the insurer or pension plan a change of beneficiary form, a minimal burden that does not violate the Contracts Clause.

United States Supreme Court (Kagan, J.; Gorsuch, J., dissenting); June 11, 2018; 2018 U.S. LEXIS 3503