insurance company is telling me that I can not receive the money due to some new law that changed a few months back. The letter was sent to my ex husband and he ignored it. Since nothing was done, they took my name off of the policy. Now the insurance company is telling me that the $ will go to the kids at age 18.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
Please speak with a probate attorney ASAP. The children should not have been names as direct beneficiaries because it would force a minors' estate to be opened, which has happened here. Instead, you should have been names as trustee for the benefit of the children. In any event, you may be able to open a minors' estate which names you as guardian for the benefit of the children, and with court permission, would allow you to expend some money if needed for the kids. All this will depend upon your probate judge and the ability of your lawyer to handle the estate properly. Worst case scenario is that no funds are available until your children attain the age of majority (18). We do not have the benefit if the language in the beneficiary clause(s) so please speak to counsel for more specific guidance.
I am not familiar with any laws that allow an insurance company to unilaterally change beneficiaries on a policy. I believe that you need to have an attorney review your divorce paperwork, as well as the beneficiary designations, (and the letter that was sent to your ex), to determine why they are taking this position and whether there is anything you can do about it.
It could be that you waived your rights to the policy under your divorce judgment or property settlement. It could also be that your ex needed to re-designate you, following the divorce. More information is needed, but I do not see how you can handle this without the assistance of a skilled litigation attorney.
***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!
Wills and Living Wills Lawyer
Sounds like there are a couple things going on here.
You seem to indicate that the company initiated a change taking you off as one of the beneficiaries because of a new law. Haven't heard that before. Maybe it was a new company policy and they sent out notice to policyholders of their policy. Seems questionable. You should contact a local probate attorney to review everything ASAP. Also tell your attorney if you had a marital settlement agreement that covered life insurance.
The second part is the minor children as direct beneficiaries. Unless the beneficiary form or the policy contract provide otherwise, there needs to be an estate guardian appointed to collect and manage those proceeds. Or, as the company said, it will just sit until they can collect at 18.
Talk to a probate attorney.
The comments above are not legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.
Estate Planning Attorney
I agree with my colleagues before. As an estate planner who has handled matters like this before, I can tell you that because you and the decedent were divorced, opening a probate estate in the decedent's name is unnecessary, at least in Cook County. The same is likely true in Peoria County.
What the insurance company's legal department will probably require are "Letters of Office" from a court appointing you as guardian of your children's estates for purposes of having the funds released to you but only for their benefit. I know it may sound odd that you have to go to court to become appointed guardian of your own children's monies, but that's the law.
Irrespective of how your name was removed from the policy, the fact is that most insurance companies will not release proceeds to minors. You need to consult with an attorney.
The answers and information I provide here, via a link, or any other reference do not create an attorney-client relationship. Before acting on any information provided, you should contact an attorney who has experience with your issue Though I may answer questions posed by individuals in other jurisdictions, I am licensed to practice only in the State of Illinois. If you reside outside the State of Illinois and your matter does not relate to a person or property inside the State of Illinois, you should contact counsel in your particular state. IRS Circular 230 Notice: "To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein."