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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Default Challenging a Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation

    My question involves insurance law for the state of: New Jersey

    So, here's the story, my brother recently passed away. He signed a LIFE INSURANCE POLICY through his company, Merill Lynch, for the sum of $750,000. As it turns out, he left his money to my parents and half to a friend. My family is trying to challenge the policy, and we're looking for some advice on what kind of case we have here.

    There are some other factors to consider as well:

    My brother has a history with drugs
    He was thought of by his doctor as being bi-polar (could we use this as a mental illness argument?)
    There are several emails to family as well as friends proving just how bi-polar and often incoherent he was to prove his illness.
    He left a journal behind the days leading up to his death that claimed to be his "last will and testament" claiming he wanted his parents to have all the money.

    Is there a case here? Is there anything we can do? Any help would be so greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Sibling Passed Away, Question About Life Insurance

    I'd also like to add that the journal left behind also included many incoherent ramblings including random thoughts and pictures and just crazy, crazy things.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2005
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    Michigan
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    Default Re: Sibling Passed Away, Question About Life Insurance

    He made his beneficiary designation how long ago? How long ago did he continue to work, and continue to live independently, after making the designation? Was this a change of beneficiary, or has the beneficiary designation always been "1/2 to parents, 1/2 to friend"? What was his relationship with his friend? Are you suggesting that the friend did something inappropriate to influence your brother? Do you have any medical evidence of mental incapacity, such as from the doctor who was treating his suspected bipolar disorder?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Challenging a Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation

    I am pretty sure a last will and testiment has no bearing on insurance proceeds. They are determined by the beneficiary on the contract. Entries in a journal probably would be hard to qualify as a will. You need a witness and need to be of sound mind, which you are saying he was not. What is more relevant is what his mental condition was when he assigned his friend to be his beneficiary. If he was mentally sound then there is no reason to overturn the beneficiary. What is your motivation for not having the friend collect? If it was your brother's wish then it should be honored. Wanting it overruled just because it means more money for the family is not a valid arguement.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Sibling Passed Away, Question About Life Insurance

    Quote Quoting aaron
    View Post
    He made his beneficiary designation how long ago? How long ago did he continue to work, and continue to live independently, after making the designation? Was this a change of beneficiary, or has the beneficiary designation always been "1/2 to parents, 1/2 to friend"? What was his relationship with his friend? Are you suggesting that the friend did something inappropriate to influence your brother? Do you have any medic50al evidence of mental incapacity, such as from the doctor who was treating his suspected bipolar disorder?
    Not sure when he made the change to his beneficiary designation, but I believe that he completely forgot he did it. Again, he clearly states in his journal, "Mom, there is 750,000 dollars waiting for you." He wanted the money to go to his parents. He's made decisions like this before where he would completely forget he did things, whether it was because of the influence of drugs or problems with anger (perhaps related to a bipolar condition)

  6. #6
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    Aug 2008
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    6

    Post Re: Challenging a Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation

    Quote Quoting brakeshoe
    View Post
    I am pretty sure a last will and testiment has no bearing on insurance proceeds. They are determined by the beneficiary on the contract. Entries in a journal probably would be hard to qualify as a will. You need a witness and need to be of sound mind, which you are saying he was not. What is more relevant is what his mental condition was when he assigned his friend to be his beneficiary. If he was mentally sound then there is no reason to overturn the beneficiary. What is your motivation for not having the friend collect? If it was your brother's wish then it should be honored. Wanting it overruled just because it means more money for the family is not a valid arguement.
    My motivation for not having the friend collect:

    Where was the friend the years leading up to his death?
    Where was the friend when my brother tried to kill himself with drugs and my parents and i spent years living with his drug problems, essentially shelling out thousands of dollars to him for help, for rehab, and to live?
    WHere was the friend when my brother was stealing money from me when i was 18 years old?
    Where was the friend at the funeral?

    The impression I'm under is that this friend and him haven't spoken for months. I'm sorry, I just feel like my parents, who are in their 60s and heartbroken after losing their first son, deserve this. My mother is sitting home on the couch still crying a MONTH after HER SON passed away. Thi

  7. #7
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    Aug 2008
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    6

    Default Re: Challenging a Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation

    And yes, Aaron, we do have evidence from the doctor of his bipolar disorder.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Sibling Passed Away, Question About Life Insurance

    So you're not going to fill us in on the relationship he had with his friend, why he would leave insurance proceeds to the friend, or why he would change his mind?

    The question is whether his initial beneficiary designation was affected by his mental illness or some other undue influence. If so, a legal action would be to have it set aside, resulting in the insurance being paid into his estate. If not, it stands.

    His forgetting that he made a beneficiary designation does not invalidate the designation. His expressing at a later date, "You're getting the money," while forgetting to change the beneficiary designation does not invalidate the designation. His writing a will of some sort, attempting to convey the insurance proceeds, does not invalidate the designation. Your not believing the friend to be deserving does not invalidate the designation.

    Evidence of bipolar disorder is not the same as evidence of mental incompetence, let alone of mental incompetence some unknown number of years ago when the beneficiary designation was made.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Challenging a Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation

    The "friend" is a friend from college, who has barely kept in contact with him, except via text message over the years.

    Why would he leave money to him? I believe it was mental incapacity or possibly even drugs.

    He did this life insurance policy less then a year ago.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Il.(near StL,Mo.)
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    5,252

    Default Re: Challenging a Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation

    It doesn't matter if the friend kept in contact with him or not, if the friend was named a bene when your brother was "of sound mind" so to speak, he gets the money.

    If you believe your brother was not of "sound mind" when he designated the friend as bene, it will have to be proven & the proceeds to the friend contested.

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