What proof do you need to contest a life insurance beneficiary?

Message Author
ampm-bookmark
delicious-small Add to delicious
yahoomyweb-small Add to YahooMyWeb
blinklist-small Add to BlinkList
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:47 pm   Post subject:   

Max....First off your help has been AMAZING! Im glad their are people out here like you that take their time to help out people...truly a blessing!



First...Ok..When I spoke with "METLIFE" I asked them..If I were to start life insurance with you guys and I named my wife at the time the bene...then I re marry and i do not change my ex wife as the bene and I die then the money will go to the ex...They told me CORRECT. I understand what your saying that by Law in the state of MI the ex is disqualified but what I dont get is why when the insurance company found out my father passed and they were given the information (being the divorce decree and the in correct change of bene forms) They knew his ex wife was still the bene and they know by LAW that she is disqualified why would they tell me that my mother (the ex spouse) is entitled to the money? It would appear that they must know the laws and that would have been a huge red flag!



The life insurance policy was a basic policy through General motors so yes it was an employee benefit..

bangerang23
New member
Leave a quick message



Joined: 16 Sep 2011
Posts: 9


2.09 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:07 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
When I spoke with "METLIFE" I asked them..If I were to start life insurance with you guys and I named my wife at the time the bene...then I re marry and i do not change my ex wife as the bene and I die then the money will go to the ex...They told me CORRECT.


I don't know who you talked to at the insurance company. If it wasn't someone from the claims department, with specific knowledge that Michigan is involved, you cannot rely on that answer.



But you also cannot confuse individual insurance with insurance under an ERISA-covered plan. For that, you have to look to the plan documents. If the plan document says a divorced spouse loses all entitlement to an employee's benefit, that's the way it goes. If it says the life insurance beneficiary is whoever was named last, that's the way it goes, unless state law says otherwise, but then only in a way that does not violate ERISA-preemption. If the plan document is silent on the matter of LIFE INSURANCE BENEFICIARY, then state law will control.



You threw a big monkey wrench into this discussion by not stating up front that the insurance in question was an employer-sponsored life insurance plan. Without seeing the plan document, it's impossible to give you specific answers. My apologies if prior posts did not address this.


_________________

CA-licensed Life & Disability Analyst. CA Insurance Lic #0596197. Also investigating insurance company abuses, and providing litigation support/expert witness services. Send me your questions, and I'll send you my answers.
MaxHerr
Forum Expert
Leave a quick message

MaxHerr
Forum Expert

Joined: 29 Nov 2009
Posts: 7888

Location: Pomona CA
107.54 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:33 pm   Post subject:   

I totally understand. I didnt think about stating it was an employee policy until you had mentioned it. I did speak with the claims department and spoke with them about being in Michigan that my mother (the ex) is automatically dq'd by law an she informed yes but their Federally regulated so that would trump any state ruling. Im taking it that with it being an employee policy the "Plan Documents " must state that whoever the bene was last then that who it goes to like you stated.

bangerang23
New member
Leave a quick message



Joined: 16 Sep 2011
Posts: 9


2.09 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:41 pm   Post subject:   

This is becoming even more complicated. There is a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision (2007) directly relevant to this post, and the news may not be good.



SEE: www.courts.michigan.gov/supremecourt/Clerk/Opinions-05-06-Term/126913. pdf - 2007-03-01



The Court held, on appeal, that while the named, but divorced, beneficiary was entitled under the ERISA plan document to be paid the life insurance proceeds, the "waiver" to future entitlement to life insurance proceeds in the divorce decree did not allow the beneficiary to legally retain the money, and she was ordered by the Court to pay an equivalent amount to the estate of the decedent.



Now we have to look at both the plan document and the divorce judgment document. If the plan document says pay the money to the ex-spouse, because she is the named beneficiary who was never changed, but the divorce order says that same person has waived her right to the proceeds, then here's what must happen:



The insurance company pays the money to the ex-spouse as the named beneficiary, as required by the Plan Document. But the ex-spouse must immediately turn over the money to the estate of the decedent. If the ex-spouse has waived her right to the proceeds and does not turn the money over to the estate, then the estate may sue the ex-spouse for violating the waiver in the divorce order.



But if the plan document says pay the ex-spouse as the named beneficiary, and the divorce order does not expressly waive the right to the life insurance money, then the money belongs to the ex-spouse as the named beneficiary, and no one else has a claim to the money.



If the plan document removes an ex-spouse as beneficiary, and no new primary beneficiary was named, but there was a named contingent beneficiary, the money is payable to the contingent. If there is no contingent, the money is paid to the estate of the decedent.



If the plan document is silent on the matter of life insurance proceeds (it probably is not), then Michigan state law removes the ex-spouse as the beneficiary, and the proceeds are payable to the contingent beneficiary, if one is named. If there is no named contingent beneficiary, the money will be paid to the estate. Unless there was an explicit grant of the future life insurance proceeds to the ex-spouse.



If there is an explicit giving of existing life insurance proceeds to the ex-spouse in the divorce judgment, that supersedes state law which would otherwise remove the ex- as beneficiary.



The current spouse is generally out of luck unless the money is payable to the estate. In the estate, if the matter is forced into Probate Court, it will first be used to satisfy the claims of creditors, with the balance of the estate probably going to the spouse as her sole property, with nothing apportioned to anyone else, because probate law generally looks to the surviving spouse before looking to children, parents, siblings, or other surviving relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews).



If the matter has not been forced into Probate Court, then the decedent's property rights automatically inure to the surviving spouse, unless there is some other legal instrument preventing that (a "prenuptual" agreement or other tacit legal agreement). The life insurance money the ex-spouse is not entitled to keep would have to be turned over to the new spouse as the successor to the estate of the decedent.



THIS IS MAKING MY HEAD SPIN! Everyone else who reads this thread probably has a headache by now.



You have a lot of reading to do. (1) ERISA plan documents, (2) divorce orders, (3) Michigan and US Supreme Court opinions. This could go in any one of two or three different ways. As a contingent beneficiary, you may or may not see any of the money, depending into whose hands the money must eventually drop first. (At least the New Spouse is later in the list than ex-spouse of first to touch the money, but she may be in second place.)



This will be more complicated than less complicated by the time everything is said and done.



_________________

CA-licensed Life & Disability Analyst. CA Insurance Lic #0596197. Also investigating insurance company abuses, and providing litigation support/expert witness services. Send me your questions, and I'll send you my answers.
MaxHerr
Forum Expert
Leave a quick message

MaxHerr
Forum Expert

Joined: 29 Nov 2009
Posts: 7888

Location: Pomona CA
107.54 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:59 pm   Post subject:   

WOW....a lot of research to do...I will make sure I keep you up to date on the actions taken. I can only imagine how many people go through this. My only thing is this...a day before my dad passed my step mother told me it was very important we find his insurance papers because he told her he left life insurance for us kids. She then found out that she was not going to receive his pension and then she flipped it to where she wanted the life insurance money and that if she obtained it then their would be no money given to us kids. In the forms he filled out in correct her percentage was only 10 percent! It was that way for a reason...

bangerang23
New member
Leave a quick message



Joined: 16 Sep 2011
Posts: 9


2.09 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:39 pm   Post subject:   

Start with the plan document and see if it says anything about divorce. If it doesn't, then go to the divorce order between mom and dad and see if it says anything about life insurance.



If the plan document says nothing about divorce (as in automatically terminated), she most likely remains the ERISA beneficiary, and the money is payable to her. If the divorce order says nothing about life insurance, she keeps the money, because ERISA probably preempts state probate law that would otherwise disqualify her.



If the plan document removes an ex-spouse, you may still need to go to the divorce order. Under ERISA, ex-spouse will not be the beneficiary, and a contingent beneficiary would receive the money. If there is no contingent beneficiary, then the money goes to the estate (new spouse).



But if the divorce order gives specific entitlement to the life insurance, and the proceeds go to the estate, ex-spouse has a claim against the estate for the value of the proceeds. [[ This is the specific instance of the Michigan Supreme Court case above, only in reverse. ]]



Quote:
She then found out that she was not going to receive his pension and then she flipped it to where she wanted the life insurance money and that if she obtained it then their would be no money given to us kids. In the forms he filled out in correct her percentage was only 10 percent! It was that way for a reason...


Oh, boy! Want to open a whole new can of worms? You might be able to argue that the correctly filled out form (if it was, and was signed and dated by dad) was discovered by ex-spouse and deliberately not filed contrary to dad's dying wishes. It could have been mailed/ postmarked the day prior to his death and it would have been received as a valid change of beneficiary. And all of this discussion would be moot.



The lawyers would love this one. They would all win, and everyone else would lose.


_________________

CA-licensed Life & Disability Analyst. CA Insurance Lic #0596197. Also investigating insurance company abuses, and providing litigation support/expert witness services. Send me your questions, and I'll send you my answers.
MaxHerr
Forum Expert
Leave a quick message

MaxHerr
Forum Expert

Joined: 29 Nov 2009
Posts: 7888

Location: Pomona CA
107.54 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:23 pm   Post subject:   

MAXX ...Ok....so I am THE CONTINGENT BENE on this policy. My mother (the ex) most likely will be disqualified due to the fact that in her divorce decree she did waive her rights to life insurance. With her being ruled out i am the next in line as far as a bene is concerned. Would then my step mother be able to contest me and have any legs to stand on?



Also, I owe a small amount of money in past due child support.If my step mother chose to contest me and we went to court would the knowledge of me owing the child support be brought up? I have no issue on paying the support..it would be a blessing to be able to pay the rears off! I am just wondering if me owing would be brought up in court?

bangerang23
New member
Leave a quick message



Joined: 16 Sep 2011
Posts: 9


2.09 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:19 pm   Post subject:   

You still have to go the employer's PLAN DOCUMENT for its employee benefits program to determine what status an ex-spouse has with regard to the plan. If the plan document does not remove a spouse following divorce, then, with regard to the plan, your mother remains the beneficiary of the plan/life insurance. If the plan document says the current spouse is the beneficiary, then it does not matter that you were the contingent beneficiary, because step-mom is the beneficiary.



The PLAN DOCUMENT is the most important piece of paper at the moment. Get a copy from the employer (whatever was in effect at the time of your father's death) and read it so you know what the situation is.



Mom's waiver of the right to the money in her divorce decree gives you legal recourse to force her to pay you an equivalent amount of money if she is paid the death benefit. That is what the Michigan court has said in the case I referred you to above.



Unless the plan document makes her the beneficiary, step-mother is out of luck 100%. She can protest all she wants she can even attempt to sue whoever gets the money, but she has no way of prevailing. She has no claim to the money. Period. So don't be concerned about any other issues.



Even the party to whom you are in arrears for child support has no power to prevent the life insurance money from getting into your hands. Once it's in your hands, the story changes, and they have legal recourse against the money.



_________________

CA-licensed Life & Disability Analyst. CA Insurance Lic #0596197. Also investigating insurance company abuses, and providing litigation support/expert witness services. Send me your questions, and I'll send you my answers.
MaxHerr
Forum Expert
Leave a quick message

MaxHerr
Forum Expert

Joined: 29 Nov 2009
Posts: 7888

Location: Pomona CA
107.54 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:39 pm   Post subject:   

Ok...SO the PLAN document is KEY! My mother (the ex) called FIDELITY which handles GM benefits and wanted a copy of the policy..they stated that they have no record and that she would have to contact METLIFE. She did so and they told her since an appeal was in the process they COULD NOT send her a copy???? Makes no sense to me because she is the Primary Bene on this policy and seeing how she is being appealed by my step mother on this policy you would think that she would be able to obtain this copy of the policy? Your thoughts?

bangerang23
New member
Leave a quick message



Joined: 16 Sep 2011
Posts: 9


2.09 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:49 pm   Post subject: ``  

If it's a group policy, the employer will have a copy your mother can view . . . somewhere. But the policy is unimportant. What is most important is the PLAN DOCUMENT -- that is not the policy. The plan document describes who may participate in the plan, who is eligible for what benefits, who may/may not be a life insurance or retirement plan beneficiary, etc.



Until you see that document, all else is speculation. The plan document would probably come from the same place as a copy of the life insurance policy at GM. Fidelity may be the retirement plan custodian, but I doubt that they are the PLAN ADMINISTRATOR. You could have your mother contact the union that your father was a member of. They probably have a copy of the plan document, and maybe even a copy of the life insurance policy.



_________________

CA-licensed Life & Disability Analyst. CA Insurance Lic #0596197. Also investigating insurance company abuses, and providing litigation support/expert witness services. Send me your questions, and I'll send you my answers.
MaxHerr
Forum Expert
Leave a quick message

MaxHerr
Forum Expert

Joined: 29 Nov 2009
Posts: 7888

Location: Pomona CA
107.54 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:04 pm   Post subject: Protesting a Beneficary  

My Mom passed in 2008 at 90 yrs old. My Dad at 95 desided to sell their home in 2010. My Dad had macular degeneration and could not see. Also he could not hear very well. After his property sold, a friend talked him into putting the proceeds from the sale of the house into a Capital One Money Market.The friend, my sister and I are the beneficaries. My Dad passed Sept 2011. We have a will from our Mom and Dad leaving all property to my sister and I. Because this Capital One account was opened with the proceeds from the sale of our parents home can we contest the friend as a beneficary on the account? We believe he was coersed into opening this account so she could inherit the proceeds from the sale of our parents house. She is 93 years old.


_________________
Register Now to have your Insurance queries solved.
Jeannine Jaeger
Guest







PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:43 am   Post subject:   

Sure you can contest it, you do have the rights to. But as she is one of the named beneficiaries, I'm not sure if contesting it will really work. Apart from that you'll have to spend a portion of the proceeds on the attorney. So, know your case well before you file it.


_________________
Register Now to have your Insurance queries solved.
insurequest
Guest







PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:46 am   Post subject:   

Your question is one of contract law, not insurance. You have an uphill battle to fight, but it might be winnable. Proving to the court that Dad was unable to see and unable to hear well, could be reason to invalidate something done at the urging of an unrelated person. You will need a highly skilled attorney to fight for you, and it will cost upwards of 30%-40% of the recovery if you prevail. If you lose, it will still cost you thousands of dollars.



My questions are: Where were you and "sis" when Dad was busy selling the home? Was no one concerned then about his inability to see or hear? Why would neither of you "kids" be directly involved in helping Dad through this process? Were you "estranged" from Dad, and now that he's dead and buried, are pissed off because he left some of "your" money to another person closer to him?



These are the kinds of questions any attorney would also ask . . . when interviewing you as a potential client, or cross-examining you in court.



_________________

CA-licensed Life & Disability Analyst. CA Insurance Lic #0596197. Also investigating insurance company abuses, and providing litigation support/expert witness services. Send me your questions, and I'll send you my answers.
MaxHerr
Forum Expert
Leave a quick message

MaxHerr
Forum Expert

Joined: 29 Nov 2009
Posts: 7888

Location: Pomona CA
107.54 Dollars($)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:20 pm   Post subject: Money Market  

We were there helping Dad sell the house. The proceeds were deposited into his savings with my sister and I as signers. My Dad had gotten sick and these ladies had him sign a check whilte he was in the hospital so they could open the Capital One Money Market telling him it would get him more interest. They also closed out his savings and checking accounts and had him open another account for direct deposit of his SS and pension.We were not estranged. We were not informed. Dad lived in Illinois my sister lived 4 hours away and I live in Az. We believe these women coerced him into getting us off his accounts to get to his money. What do you think of this situation?


_________________
Register Now to have your Insurance queries solved.
Jaeger
Guest







PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:10 am   Post subject:   

OK. I understand the situation.

Quote:


We believe these women coerced him into getting us off his accounts to get to his money. What do you think of this situation?


Unfortunately, I am not familiar with elder law in Illinois, but this is probably a crime of some kind, given the circumstances and persons with no insurable/financial interest involved, so I can't really tell you where you should begin. You can start by contacting the local law enforcement agency where this occurred and and discussing the matter with a detective, or the local district attorney's office and speak to a prosecutor that specializes in elder law matters. This could be a "tip of the iceberg" scam that can be busted wide open.



In California, we have an entire chapter of law on Elder Financial Abuse that more and more states are adopting into their own laws. I don't know if Illinois has done anything in this direction.



Keep us informed of your efforts.


_________________

CA-licensed Life & Disability Analyst. CA Insurance Lic #0596197. Also investigating insurance company abuses, and providing litigation support/expert witness services. Send me your questions, and I'll send you my answers.
MaxHerr
Forum Expert
Leave a quick message

MaxHerr
Forum Expert

Joined: 29 Nov 2009
Posts: 7888

Location: Pomona CA
107.54 Dollars($)

Quick Reply
Your Name
Subject
Message body
All times are GMT
 Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next  
Page 2 of 4


Get a Quote
Ask Community Experts

flash plugin

Quick Links

Must See

Community

Hot topics in forums

Latest in blogs

    Connection Error: Connection refused