I can imagine few circumstances under which an executor would have grounds to recover from a life insurance beneficiary. Fraud or duress being the only two off the top of my head.
The whole point of naming a beneficiary is to provide that beneficiary with the proceeds using the many benefits life insurance brings (avoiding probate, tax benefits, liquidity etc). If the insured wants to change the beneficiary, they should have done so. Absent something out of the ordinary, like fraud or something, there would be no legitimate grounds to recover from a life insurance beneficiary.
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People can generally sue, if they are inclined to do so. WINNING is another matter completely. What grounds would the executor have to sue? Does the executor even have legal standing to sue? I would have the executor ask his/her attorney, but this sounds pretty dubious to me. Life insurance passes outside of probate and outside of a trust, unless the trust or estate is named as beneficiary. The life insurance company is contractually bound to honor the beneficiary designation. The only caveat to this would be that if the named beneficiary was an ex spouse of the decedent, then it is possible that the divorce judgment or property settlement waived the beneficiaries right to RETAIN the proceeds. In that case, MANY states have held that the proceeds are held in constructive trust for the estate (or perhaps the trust, in your case). If that is your case, then you have a much better chance of prevailing, provided you have good legal counsel.
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