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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    3

    Default Threatened With a Lawsuit Over a Parent's Change of Life Insurance Beneficiary

    My question involves insurance law for the state of: iowa

    So my father passed recently, he was widowed, so his legal heirs according to Iowa law are my younger brother and I. We have a step brother also from my mom's side. My younger brother has issues, he is not mentally capable of dealing with any of this stuff. He is homeless, doesnt have a phone, has mental issues and drug problems.l, so insurance companies wouldnt even have a way to get ahold of him. On top of that, both me and my father have no contact orders against him.

    My dad and I decided to remove my younger brother from the insurance policies leaving me as the sole beneficiary. My step brother may have been on them, he claims my mom made him the head benenficiary, doesn't make sense that my mom would have control over my father's policies but anyways, if my dad removed my step brother, he did it without my knowledge.

    So far I have inherited all of the policies. According to Iowa law, step children are not entitled to inherit anything. My step brother is rich compared to me. He was never there for my dad, always talked down about him and my mom for her mental issues. I lived with my dad until I was 29. I am 32 now but I have been there for him for anything he needed. I considered him a good friend and was in constant contact with him and took care of him as best I could with my full time work schedule and kids. I had a little help from one of my friends but rarely from my step brother.

    Anyways, I told my step brother that I am keeping the insurance money for myself since it's all entitled to me. I told him I would split the small estate with him and give him the cash value on the two insurance policies my father had on us, which is about $2,000, and about another 7 or 8 thousand for half of what's left of the estate after his debt is paid.

    He became irate. He's accusing me of making my dad remove him from the life insurance policies and saying he is going to sue me.

    After doing some reading, it looks like he would have to prove my dad wasn't mentally capable of understanding what he was signing and would have to prove I had undue influence over him. Well my dad was just fine mentally and as far as influence, I didnt have any undue influence but I was definitely a thousand times closer to my father than my step brother was.

    This should be an open and close case, correct? I don't think he stands a chance.

    But if it does go to court it will be quite a burden on me. So my main concern is would I be able to counter sue for court costs and lawyer fees, and lost wages for time off work? It's only been a month since my father's death and I am still grieving, would pain and suffering also be a possibility for him putting me through this type of burden while I'm still grieving?

    It's just aggravating knowing he did next to nothing for my father while I did literally everything, him and his wife are rich and buying two condos, have 4 cars and a boat, while I rent a house and finally for the first time in my life got a decent car with my tax return, and my girlfriend drives my son around in a rust bucket van, and he wants the money that's entitled to me. Ugh.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,150

    Default Re: Step Brother and Instestate Laws and Life Insurance

    Quote Quoting r0llinlacs
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    But if it does go to court it will be quite a burden on me. So my main concern is would I be able to counter sue for court costs and lawyer fees, and lost wages for time off work?
    If you win against his law suit you might get a few expenses of the lawsuit awarded to you. But that does not include your lawyer's fees, lost wages, or compensation for the time off you have to spend dealing with it. But the good news is that you might be able to get the case dismissed for lack of standing or on summary judgment which would limit the amount you end up spending on this if he sues. If he sees a lawyer, the lawyer is likely to tell him he probably won't succeed and he may never end up suing you. So don't fret about what might happen. Worry about if it if indeed he does sue.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    3

    Default Re: Step Brother and Instestate Laws and Life Insurance

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    If you win against his law suit you might get a few expenses of the lawsuit awarded to you. But that does not include your lawyer's fees, lost wages, or compensation for the time off you have to spend dealing with it. But the good news is that you might be able to get the case dismissed for lack of standing or on summary judgment which would limit the amount you end up spending on this if he sues. If he sees a lawyer, the lawyer is likely to tell him he probably won't succeed and he may never end up suing you. So don't fret about what might happen. Worry about if it if indeed he does sue.


    Thanks for the reply. I will try not to worry but after doing some reading about undue influence, it seems it's a fine line between influence and undue influence. I mean, I obviously had more influence than my step brother because I actually made an effort to have a relationship with my dad while my brother barely even called him every few months, if that. I didn't coerce my dad into changing anything, but I did bring up the topic, we talked about it and he agreed with me. He was perfectly fine mentally and never had a history of any mental problems at all and he was only 74 when he passed, which is barely elderly IMHO.

    We agreed for him to take my younger brother off as a beneficiary but we only talked about removing my step brother, we never agreed to that but I expressed my opinion that him and his wife are already financially well off and that I could use the money a lot more than they could. If he removed my step brother, he did that on his own free will, and didn't even tell me because I was still under the impression he was still a beneficiary until I filled out the claim form and received the check in my name only.

    My influence isn't undue, is it? I had a good relationship with my father, I never abused him or took advantage of him in any way. I helped him and he helped me and we talked and saw eachother at least once a week after I moved out. I always cooked for him, he loved my grilling, I put a new floor in his kitchen, worked on his car, anything he needed and he helped me out financially when I needed it, more times than I can count. Obviously our relationship benefited me, but that alone doesn't make my influence undue, does it?

    Also, if he does sue, and lose, why wouldn't he have to pay my attorney fees and lost wages?? I'm not asking for this and he is doing it out of pure rage and jealousy. I shouldn't have to pay for his emotional outburst??

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,753

    Default Re: Step Brother and Instestate Laws and Life Insurance

    Quote Quoting r0llinlacs
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    My influence isn't undue, is it?
    Based on what you have written, no, of course not. Your step brother is blowing hot air.

    With regard to the life insurance policies, call the life insurance companies' claims department, get a claim form and instructions, and get your money. Don't overthink it.

    Quote Quoting r0llinlacs
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    Also, if he does sue, and lose, why wouldn't he have to pay my attorney fees and lost wages??
    Because that's how the American legal system works.

    Quote Quoting r0llinlacs
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    I'm not asking for this and he is doing it out of pure rage and jealousy. I shouldn't have to pay for his emotional outburst??
    Again, he may be blowing hot air. Ignore him and do what you've got to do.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Step Brother and Instestate Laws and Life Insurance

    Thanks for the reply. I've already filled out the forms and the check is already deposited but on hold until monday because of the amount. It's said and done. All that's left is another small policy, with me as the beneficiary, and his retirement account.

    He's demanding half of everything, even the small policy my dad got specifically for me, and the estate which he's not even legally entitled to since he died intestate. He's acting ridiculous but I hope you're right and it's just hot air. It's just insane, it feels like he's trying to rob me, trying to take money that isn't his. He knows it's not his and I feel like he's just trying to hurt me financially out of pure spite.

    Anyways thanks for the replies again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,347

    Default Re: Step Brother and Instestate Laws and Life Insurance

    Are you aware of the actual policy amounts? Your step brother may be owed a share of the insurance benefits. If the policy listed each of you as equal beneficiaries, they would write a check to each of you for one half of the amount of the total benefit.

    Other than that, insurance is not inherited money. It is an insurance benefit.

    For your step brother to challenge you being the only remaining benefit would be costly to him. He can file suit without a valid claim but to win he has to prove his case. It would likely require an attorney to do that and given the dollar amounts you’re talking about, it would quite possibly cost him more to contest this than he could win.

    As another poster stated: worry about a suit if he files a suit. Until that time it’s just blowing hot air.

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