Is getting someone to switch their beneficiary for life insurance after they have been diagnosed with dementia illegal?

UPDATED: Sep 19, 2011

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Is getting someone to switch their beneficiary for life insurance after they have been diagnosed with dementia illegal?

My wife was the beneficiary for her grandmother’s life insurance. Later on when she was diagnosed with dementia her uncle had it switched to his name after 20+ years.

Asked on September 19, 2011 under Estate Planning, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A change of beneficiary (or to a will; or to a power of attorney; etc.) can only be made by someone who is mentally competent; a change made by someone not competent is void, or not valid. While it is not a bright line as to when a person is competent or not--a court will determine this, based on all the facts, the person's condition, etc.--from what you write, it appears that are grounds to challenge the change in beneficiary. In addition, under some circumstances, trying to get an incompetent person to change her life insurance (or will, etc.) for the new beneficiary's benefit could provide grounds for additional civil, or even criminal, liability.  From what you write, it would seem to be worth it for your wife to consult with an attorney about possibly challenging this redesigation and also possibly having a guardian appionted for her grandmother. Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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