Successful Settlement in case with Competing claims for Life Insurance – The Battle of the Beneficiaries
April 24th, 2023
We would like to share this interesting story of one of our clients and how we helped her obtain a significant settlement when everything seemed to be lost.
For many years, Gisele and Derek were friends and business partners. They purchased multiple properties together and celebrated when their investments yielded profits. After selling their last investment, Gisele and Derek drifted apart, but it was still with great sadness that Gisele learned that Derek had passed away from cancer in January of 2019.
Shortly after his death, she received a letter from an insurance company, informing her that about 10 years before, Derek had named her the beneficiary of his life insurance policy valued at $300,000.00. Gisele was stunned by this news, but her surprise grew when she received another letter from the insurance company shortly afterwards, stating that it appeared that Derek had tried to remove her as the beneficiary and replace her with Nancy, the woman he married barely 1 month before he died. The insurance company filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court, requesting a judgment from the court regarding who was the beneficiary: Gisele or Nancy?
Lost as to what to do, Gisele reached our attorney Desmond P. FitzGerald of FitzGerald Law Company in Boston. After learning more about the facts, attorney FitzGerald uncovered evidence that Derek had not actually changed the beneficiary of his insurance but his new wife had filed the paper work just 1 day before Dereck’s death, using a “Power of Attorney”. Attorney FitzGerald knew that there was something unusual going on. More importantly, he realized that when Derek signed the Power of Attorney, the law required a specific instruction to let Nancy change the beneficiary of his life insurance policy. However, the Power of Attorney signed by Derek did not contain this specific instruction. This meant that any attempt by Nancy to change the life insurance beneficiary was invalid.
As our office always does, we first contacted Nancy’s lawyers to inform them of the invalidity of the beneficiary change. It is our office’s protocol to do this because it can lead to resolution of the matter quickly, thus shielding our client from a drawn-out process that can be draining both financially and emotionally. However, Nancy’s lawyers were convinced that Derek’s actions prior to his death clearly showed that he wanted to change the beneficiary to Nancy, which would trigger the “substantial compliance” doctrine. At that point, our attorneys filed a Motion for Summary Judgment with the Superior Court, requesting that the judge decide that there was no need for a jury trial and that Gisele was the sole beneficiary of Derek’s life insurance policy.
As often happens after a Motion for Summary Judgment is filed, Nancy’s lawyers decided that they were amenable to mediation. During the mediation session, certain personal information came to light that made it clear that our client did not want to draw out the negotiation and it was best for her to resolve the matter quickly. Our lawyers were able to settle the matter on that day for $180,000 and Gisele walked away with a six-figure sum of money that she had never expected to receive. Our skilled litigating attorneys always strive to obtain the best outcome for our clients, and can identify when it is critical to end a matter sooner as opposed to later. The litigation attorneys at FitzGerald Law Company in Boston are always available to assist individuals in obtaining what belongs to them, and we make sure to respect our clients’ needs and objectives along the way. If you need help with any personal injury, criminal defense or immigration case, our experienced Boston lawyers will make sure you get the best legal representation. Our history of success and excellent client reviews demonstrate it best.
Call our office at: (617) 303-2600 to schedule your initial consultation or submit an appointment request online.