A policy of life insurance taken under the Married Women’s Property Act, 1874 is deemed to be held in trust for the wife and/or children and cannot be seized by creditors. Insurance companies often highlight this feature in their advertisements. In this article, we explain what this feature is and why it can matter.
What is the Married Women’s Property (MWP) Act?
This was a law passed in 1874 for the welfare of women and families. It provided women with a level of financial security in case their husbands passed away after incurring significant debt. This Act only protects life insurance proceeds and not other types of insurance.
Why it matters
This feature is important when families take out home loans or incur large business liabilities and the husband unexpectedly passes away while the debts are still outstanding. In such a scenario, a life insurance policy can provide for the rest of the family. However, creditors may move to attach the policy to satisfy outstanding debts. Policies taken under the Married Women’s Property Act are immune from such seizure/attachment and they are not considered part of the husband’s estate.
On the flipside, you cannot take loans against this type of policy or change the beneficiaries. Other changes to the policy also cannot be made without the written consent of all beneficiaries and only if they have attained majority (over the age of 18).
Furthermore, the Act states that it shall not impede or destroy the right of any creditor to be paid out of the proceeds out of any policy of assurance which may have been taken out to defraud creditors.
How it works
The policy can be taken out in trust for your wife or children or both. You can download the MWP form from the insurer’s website, fill it up and submit it while purchasing the policy. Some insurers may even offer a completely online form. You must provide details of all the beneficiaries (wife and/or kids) and the share of each in the proceeds of the policy.
The policy in question must be brought under the Act at the time of buying the policy. It cannot subsequently be brought under the Married Women’s Property Act.