Legal Question in Insurance Law in District of Columbia

Insurance Death Benefits

My mother died in 2007 and her life insurance policy paid out to me and my younger sister (who is a minor). My step-father managed to get her portion of the money paid out to himself and now (2009) he is trying to get half of my share of the benefits. He is stating that based on California Community Property Law he is entitled to half of the death benefits as the spouse of the policy holder. Is he right? Does he have a case? And can he ask for a share of the money from me 2 years later now that the money has been spent? If so, what is my next step? I live in DC, do I need a California lawyer?

Asked on 4/11/09, 8:07 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Michael E. Hendrickson Attorney & Counsellor at Law
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Re: Insurance Death Benefits

No, I would doubt that you actually need to retain the services of a California lawyer but you should probably arrange to consult one familiar with California probate law in order to know whether there's any basis for this apparent predator's claims.(Normally, life insurance proceeds pass outside of the probate process and whoever is designated as a benificiary on the policy at the time of the policy holder's death is entitled to the proceeds---and no one else--not even a decedent's spouse who for whatever reason may not have been so designated.)

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4/11/09, 11:19 pm

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