What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? MI
My brother passed away last year. His wife of 10 years had recently left him and their relationship was unfriendly to say the least. During the period he was in the hospital dying, the wife was inconsolable due to the fact that there was "no life insurance" that she would be able to use for funeral expenses - (she was looking at the rest of the family to pay them).
She didn't do too bad in the end and inherited all of their marital assets.
After his death, my mother received about $75K in a brokerage account set up by the life insurance company. She was listed on his life insurance 15 years ago when the policy first went into effect. Except for paying for the funeral out of the funds, (which wasn't necessary but we all felt it was the right thing to do) the life insurance money has remained untouched in that same brokerage account.
The estranged wife/widow, has filed a lawsuit for the $75K and naming as defendants: the employer, the life insurance carrier, and my mother. Plus she is asking for damages for "emotional distress" and apparently her quality of life has failed too. The estranged wife is claiming that the employer "lost" the papers my brother filed AND "alternatively" the employer "failed to provide" the correct papers. Based on many statements the estranged wife had made previously, we are sure that these "lost papers" are a complete fabrication. She had stated immediately following his death that she searched through all of his files and found no evidence of Life Insurance. (So how can she be sure these papers were "lost" when she didn't even know the life insurance policy existed?)
The day everyone was served with these lawsuit papers, the Life Insurance company froze my mother's brokerage account and stated they knew about the $4000 check she had written.
1) Can they access her account information and freeze the funds without any type of court order? I mean if we had moved the money, they wouldn't have been able to freeze it. Just because the Life Insurance company set up the account and had the information on it, doesn't give them any rights to control the money that was provide to my mother with their assurances that she "IS" the beneficiary.
2) Since the money is frozen what is the Life Insurance company's motivation to fight the wife? Wouldn't they just not want to mess with this and simply roll over and give the wife my mom's money?
3) How do the courts respond to cases like this? The estranged wife has no papers, no evidence other than her "knowledge" that my brother supposedly told her he had changed her to the beneficiary (you know, on the policy she never knew existed at the time of his death). Sigh...
Any thoughts from those with experience on this one?
Thanks!What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?