Probate Q & As

Insurance Disputes

If you are having difficulty collecting a life insurance policy death benefit insuring the life of a deceased loved one, we strongly encourage you to contact us.  Life insurance companies all too often offer little more than their condolences after reviewing beneficiary death claims. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, so while it may shock the conscious of the average person, insurance companies routinely delay payment and deny claims.

Hubbard and Rotthier believes you deserve better. While the claims department may just be doing its job, you can rest assured that we will be doing ours as well.

Life insurance claims may be denied for a number of reasons. The most common reasons include:

  • Undisclosed or pre-existing medical conditions
  • Incomplete or incorrect insurance applications
  • Incomplete or incorrect insurance claim forms
  • Questions about the cause of death or behavior causing death

It is important to understand that life insurance companies will use any reason they can to deny or delay paying a claim. Sometimes, they will deny claims simply because there is a chance that the beneficiaries will not pursue the claim. In instances of insurance bad faith, the law may entitle beneficiaries to additional damages.

We can assist you with your life insurance claim anywhere in the State of Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1:  Can a will be changed?

A:  Yes, if the testator is competent.  A new will or a “codicil” can be executed to create a new scheme for disposing of the testator’s property.  State law can change a will also.  This is commonly done when there has been a divorce.  Usually a divorce terminates the ex-spouse’s rights under a will, unless a contrary intent is clearly shown.  A separation doesn’t terminate a spouse’s rights under a will.  The specific impact of divorce on an existing will depends entirely on state law.

Q2:  Can I appoint a guardian for my children in my will?

A:  Yes. This is another valuable benefit that a will can provide.  However, a court is not bound by the naming of a guardian in a will.  The court will certainly consider it, and it’s often the only way to make your wishes known after you’ve died.

Q3:  Can I dispose of my property in any way I wish?

A:  Yes, for the most part.  But if you indicated that all your property should be collected and burned, the law might not give effect to that part of your will.  You won’t be able to avoid protections given to others by act of law, either.  This can include your spouse’s rights against the estate, community property protections and special protections for children.

Q4:  Can more than one person be named as personal representative?

A:  Yes.  You may appoint co-representatives, or a secondary representative.  Having more than one representative can create problems during probate.  However, normally they will have the same powers to act, and this can create conflict.  The nomination of two or more executors/representatives should be carefully considered.

Appointing co-representatives might be an emotional reaction-not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.  However, an emotional reaction is often not the best choice for a legal situation.  If you nominate co-representatives, you need to believe that they will be able to cooperate in handling the estate.

Q5:  How can a person contest a will?

A:  A person contests a will by filing the relevant documents with the probate court.  The person normally must be “interested” that is, must be an heir under the will or at law.  There are time limits for contesting a will, and they vary by state.  You must have grounds to have a chance of successfully contesting a will.  Unhappiness with the proposed distribution of property is not a valid ground.  Valid grounds depend on state law.  Incapacity, fraud, undue influence and duress are the most common grounds.

Q6:  What are the executor or personal representatives’ duties and obligations?

A:  The representative is charged with following state law in wrapping-up the decedent’s affairs.  This includes:

  • Giving the proper notices to the proper parties
  • Collecting all the decedent’s property
  • Receiving claims against the estate
  • Paying just claims and disputing others
  • Distributing the estate property according to the will or state law

Along the way there may be other necessary actions, like selling estate property to cover debts or allow for proper distribution.

Q7:  What happens if you die without a will?

A:  State law has a default will for any person who dies without a will.  Commonly, the spouse and children of the decedent will take the property.  If there is no spouse and no children, the decedent’s parents will take the property, then siblings, grandparents, and children of the grandparents.  If no close relation can be found, the property will eventually belong to the state.  As part of the probate process, the creditors of the decedent get first shot at the estate property, after certain allowances for a spouse and children.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.
Hubbard and Rotthier, Attorneys at Law 
Contact Hubbard and Rotthier, Attorneys at Law for a confidential consultation to assist you with your legal needs. Licensed to practice in all courts in the State of Texas.

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