Life Insurance Beneficiary Disputes

Thank you to the Estate Planning Section of the Collin County Bar Association for hosting my presentation  on life insurance beneficiary disputes. The presentation was on December 8 and included the following topics:

Common dispute areas

  • The will contest in disguise – undue influence/lack of capacity
  • Attempted beneficiary changes – doctrine of substantial compliance
  • Designations in favor of ex-spouses – Texas Family Code – Texas Estates Code
  • Agreements incident to divorce – QDRO – waivers – agreements to make designations
  • Community property claims – constructive fraud on the marital estate
  • Disqualification of a beneficiary – slayer statute

Texas or Federal Law

  • The first question 
  • ERISA – why it is so important 
  • How to determine if ERISA applies

Resolution

  • Interpleader 
  • Putting the life insurance company on notice of a dispute
  • Typical insurance company response, the “pre-interpleader” letter
  • State or federal court
  • Negotiation tips