When you obtain a life insurance policy, you must select a beneficiary. Some people want to later change that beneficiary. Whether or not you can make that change depends on several factors. You must review your specific policy and determine if you have an irrevocable beneficiary. To learn more about your situation, contact CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC today.
What Is a Beneficiary?
A beneficiary is the person or entity you name in your life insurance policy who will receive the benefits of that policy upon your death. You may name one or more people, the trustee of a trust that you establish, a non-profit organization, or other company as your beneficiary.
A life insurance policy may have a revocable or irrevocable beneficiary designated. A revocable beneficiary may be changed by the owner of the life insurance policy without the acknowledgment of the beneficiary. However, an irrevocable beneficiary requires that the beneficiary sign off on any policy changes that are made.
The life insurance policy that you choose will determine whether you have an irrevocable or revocable beneficiary. However, the exact legal status of an irrevocable beneficiary is not clear in some situations. Some consider irrevocable beneficiaries to be co-owners of the policy since their consent is needed in order to exercise policy rights. Others assert that irrevocable beneficiaries’ consent is only needed to make changes to the beneficiary status. These claims are important when the owner of the policy is considering surrendering it or permitting it to lapse.
Changing Your Beneficiary
Technically, you should be able to change your life insurance policy beneficiary as many times as you’d like, whenever you want. However, your life insurance company will likely require that you meet specific conditions or take certain actions when you make those changes.
When you apply for a change of beneficiary, you must take all of the appropriate steps in the process to finalize the change. That includes the first step which is to apply for a change in ownership of the policy. The original irrevocable beneficiary must sign the appropriate forms for this to occur. Then, the forms must be filed with an approved by the insurance company. An endorsed copy of your life insurance policy must then be sent to the new beneficiary, who must also sign the forms in order to become the new irrevocable beneficiary. Those forms must all be then finalized and accepted by the life insurance company. If any steps are missed or skipped, the life insurance company may deny a life insurance claim.
Reasons Your Life Insurance Claim May Be Denied
Failure to complete all of the steps of changing a life insurance beneficiary can lead to denial of a claim. Often, it is the negligence of an insurance agent to blame. If they failed to send an endorsed copy of the policy to the beneficiary or the insurance company never finalized the forms, then a step may have been missed and the insurance company may claim the change of beneficiary was never complete, even though change of ownership was completed. This can lead to complete denial of the claim.
Another reason your life insurance claim may be denied or delayed is a legal name change. If the irrevocable beneficiary has a legal name change that is not updated on the life insurance documents, it can cause issues in the future if a claim is made. Your life insurance company should have appropriate forms to complete if your beneficiary needs to make a legal name change.
Examples of Irrevocable Beneficiaries
Irrevocable beneficiaries may be family members, employers, or other entities who are the beneficiaries of your life insurance policies. That often includes your spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, an employer, a trustee, a non-profit company, or other organizations.
If you select a company or other entity to be your beneficiary, then one person within that organization would be responsible for signing documents as a beneficiary. However, when your life insurance policy pays out, it will benefit the entire organization rather than that singular person who represented the entity.
Call a Life Insurance Lawyer Today
If you have questions about your specific situation, contact CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC today.