Life insurance and divorce

Many issues with life insurance arise after a divorce. The laws controlling divorce and life insurance are complex and confusing. At our firm, we work to protect your rights and will help you understand the legal intricacies involved in the process of claiming the payout. Below is a common situation of a client whose life insurance benefits can be wrongfully denied by the insurance company.

Kevin and Barbara were married in 2000. While they were married, Kevin worked for a company that provided group life insurance policies to its employees. Kevin took out a $1,000,000 policy on his life and made his wife, Barbara, the primary beneficiary. The couple divorced in 2010. The final judgment of divorce states that Kevin is to maintain his life insurance policy for the same amount, $1,000,000, and he is not to change the beneficiary. In other words, the final judgment of divorce states that after Kevin’s death, Barbara is entitled to the $1,000,000. After the divorce, however, Kevin changed his mind about the beneficiary designation on the life insurance policy and, in violation of the final judgment of divorce court order, made his new wife, Anna, the primary and sole beneficiary of the insurance proceeds. Kevin died in 2012. Both Barbara and Anna filed claims for his life insurance proceeds.

In such cases, both Barbara and Anna may have valid claims. The gist of the case is what law controls. Many states have enacted laws stating that a former spouse automatically loses his/her designation as a beneficiary on life insurance policies and other instruments. Such laws, however, have exceptions. It also matters whether the final judgment of divorce falls under the definition of a qualified domestic relations order. In addition, it must be determined whether the group life insurance policy is governed by state law or federal law. Finally, the circumstances surrounding the change of the beneficiary must be investigated to ensure there was no undue influence or duress. All these preliminary steps must be taken in order to handle competing claims properly.

When the insurance company informs you that you do not have a right to claim the policy proceeds, you need to consult with an experienced life insurance attorney. Often, insurance company agents reviewing your claim do not determine correctly what law controls the case and may wrongfully deny your benefits.

At Kadetskaya Law Firm, we will protect your rights. In many cases of several competing claimants, the insurer may file an interpleader. An interpleader is a court proceeding initiated by the insurance company presented with two or more competing claims for the life insurance money. Thus, in our case above, if Barbara and Anna both claim the $1,000,000, the insurance company is likely to file an interpleader asking the court to help determine who should get the life insurance proceeds. An interpleader is a court proceeding and you need an experienced life insurance attorney on your side. Call Kadetskaya Law Firm now if you think there may be several claimants to the life insurance proceeds. We offer free consultations.

No Legal Fees Unless We Win Your Case!

Our attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. It means that we do not charge legal fees unless we collect the life insurance proceeds for you. Only then will we charge a reasonable legal fee. We take pride in offering competitive contingent fee structures and will work with you to ensure you are comfortable with the fee.  If your claim has been denied or delayed, call our life insurance lawyers for help. We have the experience you can trust.