Disputing a Life Insurance Beneficiary
You and your husband were married for 10 years before he died. This was his second marriage. When he died, he had a life insurance policy, but instead of naming you as the beneficiary, the policy lists his ex-wife. He never updated the policy after marrying you.
This can be a frustrating situation. You have bills to pay due to your husband’s death. You needed this money to replace his income. Since your name is not listed as a beneficiary, there’s nothing you can do, right?
Not necessarily. Life insurance beneficiaries can be disputed in some situations. If you think you may have a case, you should seek legal advice.
The most common reasons for life insurance beneficiary disputes are marriages, divorces, births of children and adoptions. These are major life changes in which beneficiaries may be added or deleted.
Another situation in which a dispute may take place is when a person who is seriously ill changes beneficiaries right before their death. Family members who are not included as beneficiaries may claim that the person was not of sound mind. They may claim that the person who is listed as the beneficiary took advantage of the deceased and coerced the person to make changes to their life insurance policy before their death.
Are These Disputes Successful?
Sure, you can dispute a beneficiary designation that you disagree with, but what are the odds of you prevailing? Once you file a dispute, it becomes a legal issue. You cannot decide if you should be the beneficiary. Neither can the insurance company. Only the courts can do so. They will hear the evidence determine whether or not you have a legitimate claim, and if so, which beneficiaries should receive the proceeds of the life insurance money.
Proving a case is the main thing, and unfortunately, many of those who are disputing the beneficiary designations are unable to prove their case. They may try to prove fraud, which is very difficult. In the end, a life insurance policy is a signed contract that is upheld in court.
Disputing a will can be costly and time-consuming. If you dispute a policy, the insurance company will put the money in a trust. The estate, however, stays open at the time, so fees and penalties accrue. You will have to pay court costs even if you lose the case. Because of this, many cases end up in mediation or arbitration. The parties involved often come to an agreement and find a way to split the money in a way that is agreeable.
Seek Legal Help
Not listed on your deceased family member’s policy as a beneficiary? Not all is lost. A life insurance beneficiary can be disputed in some cases. Make sure you seek legal help to understand your options based on your situation.
Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. is skilled in handling beneficiary disputes. Schedule a consultation to seek assistance with such a complicated matter. Fill out the online form or call 954-764-4330.