As indicated in an article I wrote on May 3, 2016 regarding the withholding of death benefits by insurance companies, there have been some new developments. The insurance industry has had a long standing policy of holding death benefits if they were not contacted by the beneficiary. In other words, the burden was placed on the beneficiary to contact the company and make a claim. Many times, beneficiaries are unaware that they have been designated as a death benefit beneficiary. As a result, no claim was ever filed even though insurance companies have contact information related to the beneficiaries in their database. There was an attempt to obtain federal legislation to change the burden of contact to the insurance companies which was strongly opposed by the industry and its lobbyists. Unbelievably, the insurance companies opposed any change in the law which allowed them to use unclaimed benefits as reinvestment funds for their own gains.
As a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), we were alerted to a new regulatory law being proposed by the Obama Administration. It bears directly on your investments, which are determined by financial advisors for many of us. As an attorney, I must place the interest of my client first. I know ever Bar Association in which I have been affiliated requires this policy, ethically and legally. I could never place the interest of a law firm or company in which I'm affiliated before the client as an attorney.
Unlike Living Trusts, all Wills must be filed in California. Wills not only identify beneficiaries, but also the assets and property in the estate. It becomes a matter of public record with property and asset values for anyone to see.
If you saw 60 Minutes on CBS Sunday night you had to be astounded by the absolute greed and thievery of life insurance companies. Many of them, mostly all of the large companies, are being sued in a class action for failing to pay death proceeds to deserving beneficiaries. Roughly $7.5 billion have been withheld by these large companies over the years although the companies were aware of the insured's death. All insurance companies have means to accumulate decedents' names, from a death role, which is checked daily through their database. A spokesman for the insurance companies stated that it as the responsibility of the beneficiary to make a claim. If no claim is made, the company basically continues to use the funds gained through premiums and further invest the proceeds and reap further dividend or interest benefits, as its own. It was also indicated that the companies would continue to use cash value in the policies to pay premiums even after knowing of the death of the insured. Unbelievable! If the proper authorities can't identify this within the definition of criminal felony theft, I don't know how it could be further defined.
New California Law: Transfer on Death (TOD) Deed
Why Living Trusts are Failing in California (Part 1)
Living Trust and Estate Planning Hypothets Based on Actual Family Issues
Why Estate Planning With A Living Trust Is Critical For Minor Children
I. Authority for Pet Trusts in California - Probate Code Section 15212
Elder Law Issues