Interpleader Lawsuits: The Lassen Law Firm Explains Navigating Life Insurance Beneficiary Disputes

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 29, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — A life insurance interpleader lawsuit involves a situation where the insurance company is uncertain about who the rightful beneficiary is, and it seeks a court’s guidance to determine the proper recipient of the policy proceeds. This legal action is initiated by the insurance company to avoid potential conflicting claims from multiple parties and to ensure that the death benefit is distributed to the appropriate beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Life Insurance Interpleader Lawsuit

Scenario without an Ex-Spouse:
Let’s consider a fact pattern where Michael, the policyholder, had a life insurance policy with a death benefit of $1 million. Michael named his two adult children, Sarah and David, as equal beneficiaries on the policy. Unfortunately, Michael passes away.

Upon his death, both Sarah and David file claims with the insurance company to receive the death benefit. However, there is a life insurance beneficiary dispute between them regarding the proper distribution of the proceeds. Sarah claims that she is the sole rightful beneficiary, while David argues that the death benefit should be split equally between them. They retain life insurance attorneys to litigate the dispute.

Facing conflicting claims, the insurance company decides to file a life insurance interpleader lawsuit.

Life Insurance Interpleader Lawsuit Steps:

  1. Petition for Interpleader: The insurance company files a petition for interpleader in a court of law, acknowledging its uncertainty about the rightful beneficiary. The company deposits the $1 million death benefit with the court, essentially saying, “We are unsure who should receive this money, so we leave it to the court to decide.”
  2. Summoning the Parties: The court issues summons to Sarah and David, notifying them of the interpleader lawsuit and instructing them to appear in court to present their cases.
  3. Legal Responses: Sarah and David, as the interested parties, hire a life insurance lawyer to file responses with the court explaining their claims to the life insurance proceeds.
  4. Trial: The court has a trial in order to ascertain the rightful beneficiary based on the evidence presented.
  5. Distribution: The insurance company disburses the $1 million death benefit according to the court’s judgment. This ensures that the money goes to the rightful beneficiary or beneficiaries, and the insurance company is relieved of any further liability.

Scenario with an Ex-Spouse:
In a situation involving an ex-spouse, the complexity increases. Suppose Michael had originally named his ex-spouse, Lisa, as the primary beneficiary but never updated the policy after their divorce. Michael later remarried a woman named Karen. In this case, an interpleader lawsuit may be initiated if Lisa and Karen both claim the death benefit. The scenario is further complicated if there is an automatic revocation statute which carries many wrinkles.

Automatic Revocation Statute
An automatic revocation statute, in the context of life insurance claims, refers to a legal provision that automatically revokes the designation of a former spouse as a beneficiary upon divorce. This statute is in place to address situations where a policyholder may have named their spouse as the beneficiary, but due to a subsequent divorce, it is assumed that the policyholder would not want their ex-spouse to receive the life insurance proceeds.

The automatic revocation statute varies by jurisdiction, and its specifics can depend on the laws of the state or country where the policyholder resides. These statutes aim to reflect the presumed intent of the policyholder after a significant life event like divorce.

Our life insurance lawyers handle denied life insurance claims as well as life insurance beneficiary disputes.

Christian K. Lassen II
The Lassen Law Firm
Nationwide Life Insurance Attorneys

SOURCE The Lassen Law Firm