Life Insurance – Slayer’s Rule

Dallas life insurance lawyers need to know the “slayer’s rule” regarding life insurance policies.
This rule is written into law in Texas Insurance Code, Section 887.205. It says in part, “A beneficiary of a life insurance certificate forfeits the beneficiary’s interest in the certificate if the beneficiary is the principle or an accomplice in willfully bringing about the death of the insured. The nearest relative of the insured is entitled to the proceeds of an insurance certificate forfeited under this section.
The Texas Supreme Court also said this in the 1987, case “Crawford v. Coleman.” Here are some facts:
This is an insurance disqualification case involving the distribution of proceeds of life insurance policies. The trial court disqualified the primary beneficiary under the policy and awarded the proceeds to the contingent beneficiaries. The court of appeals affirmed.
Sandra Shoaf was stabbed to death by her husband, Cornelius Shoaf. Sandra’s life was insured under four insurance policies, each designating Cornelius as the primary beneficiary.
In construing the insurance code, this court has said that insurance proceeds are distributed to the nearest relative of the insured only “if all of the beneficiaries, primary and contingent, are disqualified from receiving such proceeds.
It is undisputed that Cornelius has forfeited any interest in the proceeds because he willfully brought about Sandra’s death. The interest of a beneficiary in a life insurance policy or contract heretofore or hereinafter issued shall be forfeited when the beneficiary is the principal or an accomplice in willfully bringing about the death of the insured. When such is the case, the nearest relative of the insured shall receive said insurance.
This court has said that insurance proceeds are distributed to the nearest relative of the insured only if all of the beneficiaries, primary and contingent, are disqualified from receiving such proceeds.
There are often times fights over who the proper beneficiaries are under a life insurance policy. The discussion above deals with the question of who is entitled to the proceeds when the primary beneficiary is who caused the death of the insured. A more often seen scenario is where the named beneficiary has died or where the named beneficiary is a spouse and there has been a divorce.
Anytime there is a dispute or question, an experienced life insurance attorney needs to be involved.