Deceased policy holder

My friend passed away 3 yrs ago and his son never contacted the auto insurance
co. The son is listed as an addl driver and has his own car insured on this
policy. He was in a car accident where the other driver was injured and the ins.
co. is asking to talk to his Dad and he doesn’t know what to do. His Dad was
still legally married at the time of death but had been estranged since 1988 and
wife lives in another city and is not this son’s mother. His estate has never
gone through probate and the home is up for foreclosure. What should the son do?

Asked on March 18, 2016 under Accident Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

He should get a lawyer:
1) He committed insurance fraud by never telling the insurer and keeping himself on (and presumably, since auto policies are typically for one year, renewing the policy 2 or 3 times) a dead man's policy. He could face jail time  for this.
2) Because the policy holder is deceased and the policy was maintained and renewed under fraudulent circumstances, the insurer does not  need to honor the policy, so the son will be personally liable for the accident.
3) He may have committed fraud in regards to other matters, such as the home, if he kept representing that his father was alive to the municipaity or lenders.
4) He wil have to start the probate process so the estranged (but still married at the time of your friend's death) wife gets her share of the estate, and if his delay has cost her money or value, she can sue him.
5) And there is the foreclosure to deal with.
In short, there are many major legal issues facing the son and he badly needs an attorney. He could, as stated, face criminal charges and substantial civil liability.


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