Would a letter from a client be enough to change the insurance beneficiary? 19 Answers as of August 22, 2012

My father put my mother and I as primary and contingent beneficiary on his insurance. My mother has passed away so the policies had lapsed. My father wrote a letter to reinstate the policies saying that he would like to change the beneficiary. The policies were reinstated leaving me as the beneficiary though the insurance company never received an official change of beneficiary. My father has passed away and my brother thinks that he is the beneficiary. Who should get the benefit?

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Law Offices of Robert H. Glorch | Jeffrey R. Gottlieb
I'm not certain from the facts you've stated. It would likely depend on the contract with the life insurance company and the specific facts. If you think you have a claim, first you should contact an attorney and probably consider lodging your claim with the life insurance company.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 8/22/2012
Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
The first thing you should do is file a claim with the insurance company.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/22/2012
DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
The forms properly filled out and filed with the company control. If there is a dispute then some times the insurance company will just pay the proceeds into the Court and ask the Judge to decide after hearing and seeing all of the evidence.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 8/22/2012
Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law
Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law | Martin Barnes
I am sorry to hear of your loss. It is difficult when situations like the one you are facing are complicated with questions such as the one you have asked about life insurance beneficiary designation. In order to answer this question properly there are a number of facts that would have to be reviewed. I advise you to obtain the services of an Indiana attorney who can assist you with this matter.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 8/22/2012
Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
The beneficiary will be whoever the insurance company considers to be the beneficiary. Normally, they would require an official change of beneficiary.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/20/2012
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    If you have something proving that you were made beneficiary, then that should be sufficient. The insurance company usually pays to the named beneficiary. If there is a dispute about this, they either pay to the beneficiary and let the contesting party go after the beneficiary, or they simply pay the money into court and let the parties duke it out.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    The insurance company has rules about how it pays the insurance proceeds. You start first with these rules. Presented with all the facts, what does the insurance company say? If they decide against you, you can review the law of the state where the insurance was in effect. This can sometimes clarify the situation.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Horn & Johnsen SC
    Horn & Johnsen SC | Dera L. Johnsen-Tracy
    Your question depends on the internal policies of the specific life insurance company. If the company sent your father written acknowledgment that it had accepted your father's letter as an effective beneficiary designation, then the new designation should be effective. However, if the company instead forwarded an official change of beneficiary form to your father which was never completed and/or acknowledged by the life insurance company, then the new designation may not be effective. If your father is still living, then he should contact the company to confirm his current beneficiary designation and to request an official change of beneficiary form, if necessary. If your father is not living, then you should contact the company to find out whether you are a named beneficiary on the policy and to obtain a claim form.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    The insurance company is required to keep the beneficiary changes and they will have the most recent changes. They can also supply to the heirs the file in their possession. Your financial plan is not complete until it is co-ordinated with your estate plan. Will your family be provided for when you are gone? Without a Will, the court will decide.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
    Sounds like a law suit in the making. Make your demand for payment and if not paid hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Timiney Law Firm
    Timiney Law Firm | Leigh Anne Timiney
    I am sorry about the loss of your parents. It is very difficult to answer your question without seeing the policy, the letter your father sent and all the documents involved. I would strongly suggest you consult with an estate planning and or probate attorney in your area who can review all of your documents and provide you with a more informed opinion with respect to your options and course of action. Good luck to you.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Edward L. Armstrong, P.C. | Edward L. Armstrong
    You need to contact the insurance company. If the company reinstated the policy and changed the beneficiary with the letter then the company accepted the change and you should be the beneficiar. This doesn't mean brother won't sue you.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Obtain yourself a litigation attorney to represent you; I can see a lawsuit coming from your brother. Typically an insurance company wants the change of beneficiary on their form; however the insurance company may have kept a copy of your father's letter request in light of the fact the insurance company reinstated the policy upon his request and received payments of the premium from him, assuming he made the request for change of beneficiary in the same letter or a subsequent letter. At the very least obtain the services of a lawyer to step in to protect your rights and obtain the records from the insurance company, and make demand for payment of the policy.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/17/2012
    That would depend on the terms of the insurance company.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman | Cristian R. Arrieta
    This seems like an interesting case. If you have written proof of father's intention to make you equal beneficiaries you may have a good case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    Depending upon the laws of the state you live in, you should be the beneficiary of the insurance policy if your name is still on the policy. If the insurance policy doesn't name a beneficiary, the money will be added to your father's estate and divided according to his will.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Probably not. It is important to consult the policy as it will probably set forth the terms to change a beneficiary. I suggest that you meet with an attorney to review the policy, the letter and its delivery status, and state law.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston | Edwin Fee
    Your mother's death alone would not cause your father's life insurance to lapse. Failure to pay a premium could cause the policy to lapse. Your mother's death resulted in you becoming the beneficiary, because you were designated as the contingent beneficiary. It is not clear why (or even whether) the policy lapsed. If the policy did not lapse, then you are still the beneficiary. Furthermore, if your father's letter attempted to designate you as the beneficiary, then that is not a change at all, because you were already the beneficiary. If your father's letter attempted to designate your brother as the beneficiary, then the validity of the letter as a change of beneficiary would depend on what the policy itself says regarding the appropriate ways in which a beneficiary may be designated.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    The insurance company almost always will go with whoever is designated with their beneficiary designation form. It sounds like you are the beneficiary of the insurance. If your father meant to add your brother as a beneficiary, but did not do it, then the letter is not going to change anything. Of course, if your father wanted your brother to share in the insurance proceeds, you might feel an obligation to do what your father wanted, but you would be making a gift to your brother to achieve that.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/20/2012
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