How Insurance Works

Contesting Life Insurance | Challenging a Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation

It is a common question: “Can you dispute
a life insurance beneficiary?” Contesting beneficiary designations arise
for a variety of reasons, among them: • Beneficiary fraud;
• Life changes by the policy holder including marriage, divorce, remarriage, adoption, childbirth;
and • Beneficiary changes near the policyholder’s
end of life. Securing professional representation in the
negotiation and litigation of a beneficiary claim can be challenging. These claims often pit vulnerable plaintiffs
against well financed defendants. Many commentators and professionals are concerned
that the middle class cannot afford lawyers. As an interesting note, the Texas Supreme
Court created a commission to address the issue. The 2017 Justice Gap Report reported that
86% of the civil legal problems reported by low -income Americans received inadequate
or no legal help. Of course, a significant percentage of America’s
middle-income families have the same problem. Given these statistics it is little wonder
that many clients with life insurance beneficiary challenges seek out contingency lawyers. Many simply cannot afford hourly fees. In the words of the American Bar Association
– “A fee may be contingent on the outcome
of the matter for which the service is rendered, except in a matter in which a contingent fee
is prohibited … A contingent fee agreement shall be in a writing signed by the client
and shall state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage
or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial or appeal;
litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery; and whether such expenses
are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated. The agreement must clearly notify the client
of any expenses for which the client will be liable whether or not the client is the
prevailing party. Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter,
the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement stating the outcome of the
matter and, if there is a recovery, showing the remittance to the client and the method
of its determination.” When Hackard Law represents clients in life
insurance beneficiary disputes we adhere to the ethical rules set in place by the State
Bar and the safeguards of California’s Business and Professions Code. These include the following guidelines:
1) The agreement is in writing with a signed duplicate provided to the client;
2) The client is notified that the fee is negotiable;
3) The client is notified of the percentage fee as well as how costs and disbursements
will affect the size of the fee and the client’s recovery. Hackard Law focuses on representing clients
in significant cases where we think that we can make a substantial difference and there
is a wrongdoer who can be made financially accountable for their wrongdoing. California life insurance beneficiary disputes
in California are usually filed and tried in the county where the defendant lives. Most of Hackard Law’s California litigation
cases are located in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa
and Sacramento Counties. If you think a contingency arrangement may
be right for your case, you can call us at 916-313-3030. We’ll be glad to hear your story and see how
we can help you.

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