Question about beneficiary of a life insurance claim

Hello! My sister died six weeks ago. I was listed as a secondary beneficiary. The primary being our mother, who died 14 years ago. My sister’s husband, of four years, has hired a lawyer claiming that due to a “glitch” the policy was never changed and wants to claim the amount due. We are not talking about big bucks. The value is 5 grand. What to do? Looking for ideas. Is this a case of the best lawyer wins? Do I need a lawyer? If so, how do I find one. I live in Mexico and don’t have money for this fight. As always, thank you for any help you can provide.

Well, I’m not sure about the legal ramifications, but I doubt the husband will get paid on this. If she forgot to change her beneficiaries, that’s not something the insurance company can do very much about.

It sounds like the kind of policy that is in place to pay for the funeral expenses. Maybe you should keep that in mind before you go fighting her husband for the money.

Beneficiary sounds very clear. Your sister’s husband is SOL. If I were you, I would contact the insurance provider and ask them what, if anything, that you need to do collect as the remaining living beneficiary. This is not really a legal battle between you and your brother in law…it’s between your brother in law and the insurance company.

Eh, I am not a lawyer and all that - BUT as I understand it when someone marries, the spouse has some automatic beneficiary claim unless specific forms are filed giving up that claim. This would be spelled out in the actual policy, which you would likely not get access to.

OK, I just looked it up - this rule refers to Pensions, not Life Insurance. Carry on.

I’m so sorry for your loss. :frowning:

You should contact the insurance company that owns that policy and ask how to go about filing the claim. You don’t need to go through him or even talk to him. Her husband has no claim. (Not a lawyer, but I am a widow.)

Moved MPSIMS --> IMHO.

Thank you LD for your reply.
My sister had lots of holdings. She married a guy 25 years younger and he will receive everything. Two houses, plus the stocks. What I don’t understand is why he wants more.

Thank you TL for your condolences.
And thank you for your input.

In mathematical terms, it’s because “some” < “all.”

My condolences for your loss.

It’s not a glitch unless there is evidence that your sister requested the change in beneficiary and the insurance company received the request and dropped the ball. And if he had that, you’d have heard about it. What it is, is an oversight. Or not. Either your sister didn’t bother making the change, or she didn’t want to make the change and kept telling hubby that yes, yes, she’d get around to it.

Every time our HR rep gives a talk on benefits, she begs people to keep the beneficiary on their 457 (like a 401k) up to date. If the Ex is listed and not the bereaved spouse, the Ex gets the account. There is nothing that anyone can do, no matter how many lawyers they hire. And she hates having to tell grieving spouses that.

Yeah, you need to just ignore him and go straight to the insurance company. I hope he (in-law) does the right thing and lets it drop.

The insurance company has informed me the following, and I quote:
I do need to inform you that Nevada is a Community Property state and Mr. (name omitted) may be entitled to 50% of the benefit by Nevada State Law regardless of the beneficiary designation.
She has asked me to disclaim total, or to disclaim 50%. I rejected both.
What I don’t understand in her quote is “maybe be entitled”. Is Nevada State Law vague on this?
As an added note, she bought this policy 8 years before she married the guy.
As always, thank you for your replies.

Community property states generally aren’t vague on the law - spouses are entitled to 50% of benefit proceeds automatically, unless specified otherwise and signed by both parties (meaning that the spouse that’s giving up the benefit knows about the regulations and understands what his or her signature is consenting to). There’s a release line that needs to be signed by the consenting spouse (and sometimes notarized by a notary) in paperwork if he or she is not specified as a primary beneficiary.

Your wrinkle comes in the fact that she bought the policy before she married. At that time, there wasn’t a spouse, and thus, no consent to inform or grant. When she married, she should’ve told her husband or filled out a revised bene form, but she didn’t. And if he didn’t know about the insurance policy, it doesn’t seem to me that he’d know to grant (or deny, as the case may be) consent to a different primary beneficiary designation. Because of this, I think it’s likely that he’ll get half of the benefit. Sorry for that.

Sorry for your loss, as well. Be good to yourself.

This is likely insurance company shorthand for “We are not your lawyer and cannot interpret state law for you as it relates to your particular scenario as each situation may have extenuating circumstances that could affect the aplication of the law, etc, etc.” It’s just easier to say “maybe”.

I agree. The fact that the policy was issued before she was married means that it’s going to be a sketchy claim for either of you. The insurance company is just hoping that you’ll forfeit it so that they can avoid a headache.

Personally, I’d do what I thought my sister would have wanted me to do. If I really believed that she intended for me to keep it, then that’s one thing. But my first reaction to reading the OP was that your sister simply forgot to revise the beneficiary after she got married. The fact that she left everything else to him lends more credibility to this. I love my siblings as much as anyone, but my spouse trumps them all. If your brother-in-law would agree not to fight it, I’d voluntarily sign over 50% to him.

Sorry about your sister. And I’m sorry that her husband is fighting you over $5,000 instead of grieving over his dead wife.

Thank you for your reply PL. Yes, I actually believe she wanted us to have it. She bought the policy soon after my mother and I literally saved her life. Since her husband is enjoying a windfall of proceeds, I would like to receive all of it. But, from the posts here, it doesn’t seen likely.

It wouldn’t hurt to have one consultation with a lawyer.

Re his worrying about money instead of “grieving over his dead wife,” right after my husband died, I did anything I could to distract myself, even though, paradoxically, I was incapable of handling the vast amount of paperwork that a death generates. Facing the void left by their absence is pretty overwhelming. One scrambles around running in circles to avoid the pain and terror. God, those were the darkest days of my life. :frowning: Before I lost my husband I also used to judge the way people grieved. I have kicked myself around the block a hundred times for my cluelessness. He’s probably doing whatever he can to just get through these days.

Does he know that? Maybe share that story with him and see what he says.

First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss.

Secondly, I’m mainly criticizing the BIL because he’s already hired an attorney to fight her sister over a measly $5k life insurance policy. He’ll undoubtedly pay as much to the lawyer in billable hours as the policy is worth. That’s pretty damn petty, IMO, especially if the sister was a beloved relative.