Interpleader Resource Center
Interpleader is a fancy legal word for when a life insurance company doesn’t know who to pay. When multiple parties make a claim for the same life insurance proceeds, your loved one’s life insurance companies may file an interpleader action. Oftentimes, a life insurance company may file an interpleader complaint if it does not know who to pay or wishes to avoid double liability. Specifically, double liability means paying the same proceeds twice. Once an interpleader lawsuit is filed, your loved one’s life insurance company will deposit the funds with a court and a court will determine who is entitled to the funds. Many interpleader cases will arise in federal court.
Interpleader is the legal mechanism used by a third-party life insurance company to file a lawsuit. Oftentimes, the life insurance company filing an interpleader lawsuit does so to avoid double liability. When an insured takes out a life insurance policy and then dies, the life insurance company will investigate any claims and determines the rightful beneficiary of the life insurance claim payment. Once the insurance company determines the lawful beneficiary, the life insurance company disperses the life insurance policy proceeds. If your loved one’s life insurance company cannot determine which beneficiary is entitled to life insurance claim benefits, the life insurance company will file an interpleader lawsuit. A life insurance company places the life insurance claim funds with the court after it files an interpleader action.
When a life insurance company sues multiple potential claimants (potential beneficiaries) in an interpleader lawsuit, the policy beneficiaries may be confused by the process. An interpleader complaint is a very unique type of legal dispute. If you are sued in an interpleader complaint, time is of the essence. You should speak with an interpleader attorney immediately.
Once sued, you will be required to answer the interpleader complaint within less than 30 days. Failure to answer the complaint could lead to a default judgment against you and you could lose the claim without having a chance to defend yourself.
History of Interpleader
Interpleaders first came up in 1916 when the case of New York Life Insurance Co. v. Dunlevy was introduced to the Supreme Court. The plaintiff sued the life insurance company to recover the benefits from the father’s life insurance policy. The insurance company claimed an interpleader action claiming the policy belonged to the father.
The result of this case inspired the Federal Interpleader Act of 1917. This act allows life insurance companies dealing with multiple claims on the same life insurance policy benefits to file an interpleader lawsuit. Since this initial act was put in place, it has been amended and appealed many times. Eventually, in 1936, it was replaced. The new act gave any person, company, firm, etc. the right to file for interpleader action when two or more claimants seek ownership of an asset/property valued above $500.
Requirements for Interpleader
To initiate an interpleader suit, the following conditions must be met:
- There must be an asset/property in dispute (ex. insurance benefits, sums of money, real estate) valued above $500.
- Two or claimants seek ownership of the asset/property.
- The person in possession of the asset/property must not be claiming an interest therein other than the charges and costs and he must be ready and willing to pay or deliver it to the rightful claimant/owner.
- There must be no pending suit where the ownership of disputed asset/property between the claimants can properly be decided.
- There must be no collusion between the plaintiff and any of the defendants.
If all of the above conditions are met, a party may file an interpleader suit. Once filed, a court will decide how the property in question is to be distributed.
Common Interpleader Examples
Beneficiary Designation Error
- No beneficiary designation on file.
- The insured did not comply with the insurance company’s rules regarding beneficiary changes.
- The insured expressed intent to change the beneficiary, and completed proper forms, but died before submitting the change to the insurer.
- The insured’s surviving spouse and ex-spouse make a claim for the policy proceeds.
- The insured never changed the beneficiary designation after their divorce and lived in a state where “automatic revocation upon divorce” laws control.
- The insured’s ex-spouse is entitled to life insurance as part of their final judgment of divorce.
Undue Influence, Duress, Fraud, Forgery & Incapacity
- The insured changed the beneficiary several days before death giving rise to suspicion of undue influence, duress, and fraud.
Children From Different Marriages
- Children from different marriages where the marriage ended in divorce and insured were obligated to maintain the same life insurance policy as child support in both divorce decrees.
Contesting A Life Insurance Policy
How much does a life insurance attorney cost?
Do you offer free consultations?
What life insurance companies have your clients made claims against?
- Minnesota Life
- Independent Order of Foresters
Do I have to live in Florida for Brochu Law to take my case?
What is an interpleader?
An interpleader is a legal procedure that helps settle disputes over money or property claimed by two or more parties. The entity the hold the money, often times an insurance company, can file a dispute for an interpleader which allows a court to decide the rightful owner(s).
Do I need an attorney for an interpleader?
For the best chance of success in your case, hiring an attorney is highly recommended. A court room can be an intimidating and complicated environment for a person with no legal backgorund. Additionally, not having an attorney can project a weak case to a judge.
What questions should I ask when hiring an interpleader attorney?
Questions to ask before hiring a interpleader attorney:
- Have you ever litigated a interpleader case before?
- Have you ever sued a life insurance company before?
- Have you ever argued and been paid in full for a life insurance policy?
- How many six-figure plus interpleader cases have you settled or won?
- Have you ever contested a life insurance policy before?
- Have you ever represented a beneficiary in an interpleader case before?
- Have you ever represented a minor in an interpleader case before?
- Have you ever represented a minor in an interpleader case before?
- Have you ever represented a ex-spouse in an interpleader case before?
- Have you ever represented a mentally incapacitated adult in an interpleader case before?
- Have you ever litigated a Federal Employees Group Life Insurance policy?
- Have you ever litigated a Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance policy?
- Have you ever litigated a Veterants Group Life Insurance policy?
- Have you ever litigated an interpleader lawsuit?
What happens to the insurance benefits during an interpleader?
When a insurance copany files an interpleader complaint, attorneys typicall request the fund be held by the court. Once the interpleader case is over, the court will pay how much it has decided to each party.
Who can initiate and interpleader?
The party who has the legal right to file an interpleader suit is the one who is in possession of the disputed property (ex. insurance company) but has no interest in it andis ready to distribute it to the rightful owner.
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