Texas lawyers fighting for life insurance benefits. We litigate interpleader beneficiary disputes and denials all over Texas, in both state and federal courts.
Texas lawyers fighting for life insurance benefits.
We litigate interpleader beneficiary disputes and denials all over Texas, in both state and federal courts.
Our skilled Texas legal team provides comprehensive representation in all aspects of life insurance beneficiary disputes, including:
Interpleader lawsuits filed by life insurance companies
Contested life insurance claims
Multiple beneficiary disputes
Beneficiary designation challenges
Fraud and misrepresentation investigations
ERISA FEGLI VGLI and SGLI life insurance disputes
Money always makes things complicated. If you’re dealing with a dispute about who should receive a life insurance settlement, we’ll handle the tough conversations, negotiations, or even take the issue to court so you don’t have to worry.
You probably already suspect this, but insurance companies don’t want to pay claims. If a life insurance company is denying your claim, we can step in and fight the denial – and the big insurance companies – so you don’t have to.
Employer-provided life insurance is often governed by a federal law called ERISA. This set of laws can make life insurance claims even more complicated than they already are. If you’re dealing with an ERISA claim, don’t worry, we’re experts.
We make the process simple for you
- We start with a 100% free – and fast – review of your claim
- We’ll discuss our review with you and determine if it makes sense to move forward
- We’ll work to find a pricing option that works for you – including a no-cost option, where you don’t pay anything unless we win
Life Insurance Beneficiary Disputes
Beneficiary disputes can be complex. In order to understand how these disputes work, it’s important to understand how a beneficiary is designated, what can lead to a dispute, and how designations can be challenged, and the interpleader process.
How beneficiaries are designated
Life insurance is considered a “non-testamentary asset”, because the proceeds are not controlled by a will.
Instead, the life insurance policy is a contract between the person who purchases the policy and the insurance company. Unlike most insurance, the policy isn’t for the person who purchases it – it’s for the benefit of a third party, like a spouse or child.
Who receives the policy benefits isn’t determined by a will. The owner of the policy names who will benefit from the policy, which is usually defined in the insurance contract – not a will. The person named (or designated) in the policy is called the beneficiary. This beneficiary will receive the life insurance payout upon the insured’s death.
However, a designation may fail or be successfully challenged for various reasons. These may include:
Failure to provide the designation in a form that satisfies the insurance
The insurance company may contend the designation is unclear
A designation in favor of an ex spouse may not be valid
A designation must be made with someone who possesses sufficient mental capacity to understand the effect of what they are doing
A designation may be made by someone who is subject to undue influence by the person who benefits from the designation
The beneficiary may have caused the death of the insured
The designation may be in violation of a court order
A designation may be in violation of a court decree
The designation may attempt to transfer community property assets
There may also be disputes when it appears the insured attempted to make a designation, but was not able to complete the act.
If you are involved in a potential beneficiary dispute, it is important to act quickly to contact a lawyer experienced in handling life insurance beneficiary interpleader disputes.
We believe that informed clients are empowered clients. That’s why we are dedicated to providing you with the necessary information and resources to help you understand your legal rights and options. Through regular communication and updates, we ensure that you are always aware of the status of your case and the steps we are taking to protect your interests.
Our personalized service is more than a business transaction. We build a relationship with our clients. This commitment is why we are so effective. And while our focus is on litigation, we always do what’s best for our clients, working to avoid expensive and lengthy lawsuits if possible. But we also have a track record of fighting tenaciously in court when necessary.
We handle life insurance disputes throughout the state. Many of our clients are referred by other lawyers who recognize our experience and expertise.
In the past ten years, we have represented life insurance claimants in court or arbitrations in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Amarillo, Lubbock, Plano, Sherman, Texarkana, and Waco, recovering millions of dollars in life insurance proceeds.
We often also represent beneficiaries across the country who are involved in disputes arising in Texas.
Texas or Federal Law?
This issue is critical, because it determines the available rights and remedies. Also, it often determines the outcome. Most commonly, it determines the rights of spouses and former spouses. It can determine jurisdiction and the right to a jury trial.
Many people purchase life insurance through their employer. The employer will often offer life insurance as part of a larger package of employee benefits.
Typically (but not always) such policies are not governed by Texas law. They’re usually governed by a federal law – The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 – commonly referred to as ERISA.
Most people, including most lawyers, do not know what ERISA is. If they don’t understand how ERISA impacts life insurance disputes, they will be unable to properly diagnose these claims. ERISA is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. It is a federal law that governs employee benefits. The primary types of benefits governed are retirement benefits, such as pension plans, or welfare benefits. Welfare benefits include health insurance and life insurance.
A key difference between ERISA retirement benefits and ERISA welfare benefits is how spouses are treated. Spouses have certain protected rights to ERISA retirement benefits. On the other hand a spouse has much fewer automatic rights to welfare benefits, such as life insurance.
In many states, a spouse may have a community property interest in a life insurance policy. And many states have laws that automatically override designations in favor of an ex spouse that were made before the divorce. Not with ERISA policies. ERISA preempts those state laws.
Disputes over ERISA policies are also typically tried in Federal courts. This is fine for attorneys used to working in federal court, but many attorneys are not. And ERISA disputes are typically tried to the judge, not a jury.
ERISA also overrides most state bad faith and consumer protection laws.
If you are involved in a beneficiary dispute or a denial of benefits, be sure to consult a lawyer who is very familiar with ERISA and how it will impact your claim.
ERISA cases are governed by federal law
ERISA is a federal law, with different remedies and procedures than Texas laws that govern non-ERISA life insurance issues.
It is critical that you consult an attorney experienced in handling ERISA claims. Some attorneys who are not familiar with ERISA will waste valuable time pursuing recovery in Texas court instead of following proper administrative procedures.
The ERISA appeals process
It is often mandatory to exhaust the internal appeals process offered by the insurance company.
During the internal appeal, it is essential to collect all available evidence for the administrative record in case that appeal is denied.
If the internal appeal is denied, the next step is to file a federal lawsuit under ERISA.
In an ERISA lawsuit, it is a federal judge who will hear your case, not a jury.
The evidence that was gathered in the internal appeal and entered into the administrative record is the evidence the judge will consider.
The Judge has discretion to award you attorney’s fees if it is determined the insurance company wrongfully denied the claim.
Capacity & undue influence
Capacity and undue influence challenges are possible for ERISA policies because they are not attacks on the designation based on reference to external documents or state laws regarding designations. Instead, they are attacks on the validity of the designation document itself.
ERISA claims are time sensitive
Time is of the essence if you are seeking life insurance benefits under an ERISA policy.
If you need help with an ERISA life insurance claim, contact us as soon as possible for a free review of your case. We can determine if ERISA or Texas law applies and the actions to be taken.
Texas Life Insurance Lawyers
Phone: (800) 323-1857
Local: (903) 893-8177
Fax: (903) 892-0916
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