Our New Jersey 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.
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Metropolitan Life interpleader: This case involved a $4.6 million life insurance policy on the life of John Lawless, an accountant who died of a heart attack in 2019. His widow, Dena Lawless, claimed the entire policy proceeds as the sole beneficiary. However, his former employer, KPMG LLP, asserted a lien on the policy proceeds for $1.5 million, alleging that John Lawless had embezzled funds from the company. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Dena Lawless, finding that KPMG had no valid lien on the policy proceeds and that Dena Lawless was entitled to the full amount.
Prudential Life interpleader: This case involved a $250,000 life insurance policy on the life of Jennifer Ianetti, who died in 2018 under suspicious circumstances. She either was murdered or committed suicide by stabbing herself 47 times while being intoxicated on oxycodone. Her husband, Anthony Ianetti, was the primary beneficiary of the policy, but he was also charged with her murder and incarcerated for a time. The criminal case was eventually dismissed without prejudice, but the prosecutors did not conclude that he was innocent. The couple’s children were the contingent beneficiaries of the policy. The court held that Prudential properly invoked the interpleader device, due to a legitimate fear of multiple liability under the New Jersey Slayer Statute, which bars a person from inheriting from someone they killed. The court dismissed all claims against Prudential and ordered the parties to proceed with discovery to determine who was entitled to the policy proceeds.
Protective Life interpleader: This case involved a $500,000 life insurance policy on the life of Robert Pastor, who died in 2020 of natural causes. His wife, Tracy Anne Pastor, was the primary beneficiary of the policy, but she was also accused of forging his signature on a power of attorney document and transferring his assets to herself before his death. His daughter, Katie Pastor, and his friend, Christopher Mokhiber, were the contingent beneficiaries of the policy. They challenged Tracy Anne Pastor’s claim to the policy proceeds and alleged that she had abused and neglected Robert Pastor during his lifetime. The court granted Protective Life’s motion to interplead the policy proceeds and dismissed all claims against it.
Lincoln Benefit life interpleader: This case involved a $100,000 life insurance policy on the life of Jose Cordero, who died in 2019 of a drug overdose. His mother, Maria Cordero, was the primary beneficiary of the policy, but she was also charged with manslaughter for allegedly supplying him with heroin. His father, Jose Cordero Sr., and his sister, Jessica Cordero, were the contingent beneficiaries of the policy. They contested Maria Cordero’s claim to the policy proceeds and argued that she should be disqualified under the New Jersey Slayer Statute. The court granted Lincoln Benefit’s motion to interplead the policy proceeds and dismissed all claims against it.
American General Life interpleader: This case involved a $50,000 life insurance policy on the life of James Jones, who died in 2020 of unknown causes. His wife, Linda Jones, was the primary beneficiary of the policy, but she was also suspected of having an affair with another man and conspiring to kill James Jones for financial gain. His son, James Jones Jr., and his daughter, Jennifer Jones, were the contingent beneficiaries of the policy. They disputed Linda Jones’ claim to the policy proceeds and alleged that she had a motive and opportunity to murder James Jones. The court granted American General’s motion to interplead the policy proceeds and dismissed all claims against it.
A New Jersey Interpleader Case Background:
Mr. Anderson, a successful business owner, held a substantial life insurance policy with Life Insurance Company such as River Source Life, Atlantic American Life or Lumico Life. Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly. The life insurance policy listed two potential beneficiaries: his sister, Lisa, and his business partner, Alex.
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.
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.
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.
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.