Can the second beneficiary receive the life insurance policy instead of the primary?

UPDATED: Jun 18, 2009

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Can the second beneficiary receive the life insurance policy instead of the primary?

In the recent death of my mother-in-law, my father-in-law just found out that he is not the primary beneficiary. He is the second beneficiary The primary is his step daughter, who is still alive, that has stolen and caused many problems for him and his family. Is there anything he can do so he can receive the benefits from the life insurance?

Asked on June 18, 2009 under Insurance Law, Texas


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Your Father-in-Law is known as the "contingent" beneficiary on the policy.  A contingent beneficiary can receive the death benefit if the primary beneficiary dies or otherwise loses rights as beneficiary.  You can lose rights in many different ways.  Some examples are killing the policy holder, unduly influencing the policy holder to change the beneficiary,  forging the beneficiary designation.  Then an adverse claim can be filed with the insurance company and the company will attempt to interplead - deposit - the money in to court and let the beneficiaries fight it out.  Absent a valid reason to make an adverse claim then your Father-in-Law may be out of luck.  If, however, he can prove that other allegations you have made against his step daughter, perhaps he can file a civil suit for repayment once she receives the money.     

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