It is a common question: “Can you dispute a life insurance beneficiary?”
Contesting beneficiary designations arises for a variety of reasons, among them:
Life changes by the policy holder including marriage, divorce, remarriage, adoption, childbirth; and
Beneficiary changes near the policyholder’s end of life.
Securing professional representation in the negotiation and litigation of a beneficiary claim can be challenging. These claims often pit vulnerable plaintiffs against well financed defendants. Many commentators and professionals are concerned that the middle class cannot afford lawyers. As an interesting note, the Texas Supreme Court created a commission to address the issue.
The 2017 Justice Gap Repo[...]
Life insurance beneficiary contests can be shocking. A loved one dies with a life insurance policy intact. Maybe you knew about the policy – maybe you didn’t. But one thing that you didn’t know about was the named beneficiary.
Or, if you are the named beneficiary, you didn’t expect a challenge to your position. We’ve represented clients on the many multiple sides of this equation.
So, let’s start with a typical set of circumstances – to the extent that there is a typical set of circumstances. Your father is 85 years old. He has a trust. He’s the trustee during his lifetime, and under its terms you become the trustee at his death.
You and your sister are the named equal beneficiaries of your father’s trust. You are the[...]
Life insurance beneficiary challenges occur with some regularity in California’s Superior Courts.
Timeliness is critical in contesting a life insurance beneficiary designation or life insurance beneficiary claim. If the life insurance payout is timely disputed life insurance companies will place the payout in a trust held by the Superior Court.
This is done in California by the way of the insurance company filing a complaint for declaratory relief and for interpleader. The complaint will name the parties who claim rights to the policy. The complaint will acknowledge that the life insurance company is liable for payment on a life insurance policy. The complaint will identify how the company has received communications from competing parti[...]
Representing clients in California life insurance beneficiary disputes a part of what we do at Hackard Law in addition to our estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation practice.
In 2017, “life insurance paid $77 billion to beneficiaries of policyholders who died.” (Am. Council of Life Insurers, Life Insurers Fact Book p. 65 (2018)). Individual life insurance policies constituted $55 billion of this total with group life insurance beneficiaries receiving the other $22 billion.
There are many ways that life insurance beneficiary designations are subject to challenge, among them change in circumstances, neglect, mistake, or poorly articulated intent. These challenges may have enormous economic consequences to the named beneficia[...]
A California attorney has a duty both to his client and to the legal system to represent his client within the bounds of the law. This is how our system works. It helps to define advocacy. And it helps to explain why cases that outside observers might think are absolutely winnable or questionably defendable become hard fought battlegrounds over facts and law.
An example of such vigorous advocacy is evident in a recent California Court of Appeal case. A lower court in a California elder financial abuse case denies the protections of the California Elder Abuse Act. The couple appeals the ruling to a higher court. I omit the actual names of both the couple and the defendants in this commentary. This case is being returned to the lower court a[...]
A recently published California case identifies the vulnerability of elders to financial abuse through life insurance schemes like churning. The California Insurance Code provides in part that anyone “engaged in the transaction of insurance” with an elder owes that person “a duty of honesty, good faith, and fair dealing.” Now to be fair, not all life insurance agents should be tarred for the sins of the few. That said, the identification of wrongful practices can help those who protect our senior citizens stay vigilant.
Many life insurance policyholders have decades-old whole-life policies with large cash surrender values. Years ago I personally saw an effort by a life insurance agent to convince a near 90-year-old policyholder to [...]