Interpleader Lawyer

Interpleader Lawyer California

Our California interpleader lawyers handle all life insurance interpleader cases and beneficiary disputes.

A life insurance interpleader case is a legal action that occurs when there are conflicting claims to the proceeds of a life insurance policy. The insurance company files an interpleader complaint with the court and deposits the policy proceeds with the court, asking the court to decide who is entitled to receive the money. The insurance company then names all the potential beneficiaries as defendants in the suit and is usually discharged from further liability.

Life insurance claims are denied frequently in California. Some issues specific to California with respect to denied life insurance claims are:

The state has a law that requires a 60-day grace period after a missed premium payment before a policy can be terminated.

This law applies to all policies involved in termination processes that started on or after January 1, 2013, regardless of when the policy was issued.

The state also requires insurance agents to provide buyers with a guide that explains the terms and conditions of the policy, and to give buyers at least 10 days to cancel the policy and receive a full refund if they change their minds.

Some common reasons for life insurance claim denials in California are: lapse of policy due to non-payment of premiums, misrepresentation or fraud on the application, suicide within two years of policy issuance, death during contestability period, death by excluded cause or activity, and beneficiary disputes.

If a claim is denied, the beneficiary has the right to appeal the decision and seek legal representation. A life insurance attorney can help with filing an appeal, gathering evidence, negotiating with the insurer, and pursuing litigation if necessary.

In California, a life insurance interpleader can be filed in either state or federal court, depending on the type and amount of the policy, and whether there is federal jurisdiction or not. Most life insurance policies issued through employment are governed by a federal law called ERISA, which gives federal courts jurisdiction over disputes involving these policies. If the policy is not issued through work and there is no federal jurisdiction, the dispute will be handled in state court.

The interpleader lawsuit involves two steps: first, the court determines whether the life insurance company has properly filed the interpleader and has no interest in the outcome of the dispute. If so, the court will discharge the life insurance company from liability and allow it to recover its costs and fees from the deposited money. Second, the court will determine who is entitled to receive the money among the competing claimants. This may involve a trial or a settlement between the parties.

Some common scenarios where a life insurance interpleader may occur in California are:

  • Divorce: If the insured person gets divorced and does not change their beneficiary designation, their ex-spouse may still be entitled to receive the proceeds, unless there is a valid waiver or court order that says otherwise. However, their current spouse or children may also claim the money as their rightful heirs.
  • Multiple beneficiaries: If the insured person names more than one person as their beneficiary, there may be a dispute over how to split the money among them, especially if the policy does not specify the percentage or amount for each beneficiary.
  • No beneficiary: If the insured person does not name anyone as their beneficiary, or if their beneficiary dies before them, their estate may become their default beneficiary. However, other relatives or creditors may also claim a share of the money as their heirs or debtors.
  • Fraud or forgery: If someone alters or forges a beneficiary designation form without the consent of the insured person, there may be a dispute over who is the valid beneficiary of the policy.

Our California life insurance lawyers are here to help.

California Life Insurance Interpleader Cases

Primerica Life Insurance interpleader California: This case involved a dispute over the beneficiary of Garvin Reid’s life insurance policy. Garvin had originally named his wife Ila as the beneficiary, but later attempted to change it to his daughter Lylah. However, Primerica claimed that it never received or processed the change form, and that Ila remained the beneficiary. After Garvin died, both Ila and Lylah filed claims for the policy proceeds. Primerica filed an interpleader action and deposited the money with the court, asking the court to decide who was entitled to it. Ila also filed a counterclaim against Primerica for breach of contract, alleging that Primerica failed to honor Garvin’s wishes and caused her emotional distress. The district court granted summary judgment to Ila on both the interpleader and the counterclaim, finding that Primerica was at fault for creating the conflict. The Eigth Circuit reversed and remanded. 

 

Primerica Life Insurance Company interpleader California: This case involved a dispute over the beneficiary of Jose Reyes’s life insurance policy. Jose had originally named his wife Carmelita as the beneficiary, but later changed it to his daughter Lylah. However, Carmelita claimed that Jose was not mentally competent when he made the change, and that Lylah had unduly influenced him. Carmelita also alleged that Jose had another daughter, Sally Yu, who was entitled to a share of the policy proceeds. In addition, American Funeral Financial, LLC claimed that it had a lien on the policy proceeds for providing funeral services for Jose. Primerica filed an interpleader action and deposited the money with the court, asking the court to resolve the competing claims. 

 

MetLife interpleader California: This case involved a dispute over the accidental death benefit of Frank Gambino’s life insurance policy. Frank had named his wife Delia as the beneficiary of his policy, which included an accidental death rider that doubled the benefit if he died as a result of an accident. Frank died after overdosing on his lawfully prescribed medication, which MetLife determined was not an accident under the policy terms. MetLife paid Delia only the basic benefit, but withheld the accidental death benefit. Delia filed a claim for the full amount, arguing that Frank’s death was accidental and not intentional or suicidal. MetLife filed an interpleader action and deposited the disputed amount with the court, asking the court to decide whether Delia was entitled to it. Delia also filed a counterclaim against MetLife for breach of contract and bad faith, alleging that MetLife wrongfully denied her claim and acted in bad faith by filing an interpleader action instead of paying her promptly. 

 

Lincoln National Life Insurance interpleader California: This case involved a dispute over the beneficiary of Hung Tran’s life insurance policy. Hung had named his wife Thuy as the beneficiary, but later divorced her and married Mai. Hung did not change his beneficiary designation after his divorce or remarriage. After Hung died, both Thuy and Mai filed claims for the policy proceeds. Lincoln National filed an interpleader action and deposited the money with the court, asking the court to determine who was entitled to it. The Northern District of California granted summary judgment to Mai, finding that Thuy’s interest in the policy was terminated by their divorce under California law.

 

Transamerica Life Insurance interpleader California: This case involved a dispute over the beneficiary of Thanh Quach’s life insurance policy. Thanh had named his wife Kim as the beneficiary, but later separated from her and lived with his girlfriend Nga Nguyen. Thanh attempted to change his beneficiary designation to Nga online, but Transamerica claimed that it did not receive or process his request due to technical issues. After Thanh died, both Kim and Nga filed claims for the policy proceeds. Transamerica filed an interpleader action and deposited the money with the court, asking the court to decide who was entitled to it. The Central District of California granted summary judgment to Kim, finding that Thanh’s online request was not effective because he did not follow Transamerica’s procedures for changing beneficiaries.

How a California Interpleader Lawsuit Works

A California Interpleader Case Background:

Mr. Anderson, a successful business owner, held a substantial life insurance policy with Life Insurance Company such as Genworth Life, Jackson National Life, or John Hancock Life. Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly. The life insurance policy listed two potential beneficiaries: his sister, Lisa, and his business partner, Alex.

Beneficiary Dispute:

Both Lisa and Alex claimed to be the rightful beneficiary of the life insurance proceeds. Lisa argued that Mr. Anderson had verbally expressed his intention to make her the sole beneficiary, while Alex insisted that they had a written agreement that entitled him to the proceeds as a key person in the business.

Interpleader Claim Initiation:

In light of the conflicting claims, Life Insurance Company decided to file a life insurance interpleader claim in the appropriate court. They deposited the policy proceeds with the court and submitted the necessary documentation, naming Lisa and Alex as defendants in the interpleader action.

Court Proceedings:

The court would then summon Lisa and Alex to present their cases. Lisa would have the opportunity to provide any evidence supporting her claim, such as witness statements or any documentation suggesting Mr. Anderson’s verbal intent. On the other hand, Alex would present the written agreement and argue that it supersedes any verbal communication.

Resolution:

The court, in its role as a neutral party, would evaluate the evidence presented by both parties. The goal is to determine the rightful beneficiary of the life insurance proceeds. If the court cannot definitively decide, the funds deposited by Life Insurance Company would be distributed equitably or as determined by the court.

Conclusion:

Life insurance interpleader claims are essential in cases of beneficiary disputes, ensuring a fair and impartial resolution while protecting the insurance company from potential legal repercussions. This hypothetical scenario illustrates the complexity and importance of such interpleader claims in navigating beneficiary conflicts.

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