Patrick was incarcerated on a manslaughter charge for pushing his wife down the stairs. He was the primary beneficiary on her life insurance policy. After the wife's death, North American Company for Life and Health Insurance received competing claims from the decedent's estate and Patrick, who was designated the sole beneficiary of the policy. The parties could not reach a decision as to who should be entitled to the benefits, so the insurance company filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Omaha. The insurance company deposited the $150,000 at issue in the court's escrow account and asked a judge to decide the matter.
The deceased spouse's estate claimed that Patrick was barred from receiving any benefits under the Slayer's Statute, which provides a spouse can't get the insurance money if he/she kills spouse. Patrick argued, however, that there was no evidence he intentionally killed his wife. He pleaded no contest to manslaughter for unintentionally killing his wife without malice and upon a sudden quarrel. The wife died of blunt-force trauma to her head after her husband pushed her down a flight of stairs during a fight. On October 1, 2013, the decedent's estate settled a federal lawsuit and agreed to give him half of her $150,000 life insurance policy.
Every state has some form of Slayer's Act which says that a murderer cannot profit from his/her victim. It means that even if the murderer is the primary beneficiary on the policy, he/she cannot get the life insurance payout if he/she is guilty of murdering the victim. In many cases, the court will want the victim's estate to prove that the murder was in fact intentional and felonious, not accidental or unintentional.
Delays in life insurance payouts may be due to the fact that the beneficiary has not been ruled out as a suspect in the insured's death or the investigation may not be over. If there is an ongoing investigation into the death of the insured preventing you from getting the life insurance payout, it is best to consult legal counsel. If your claim has been denied or delayed for any reason, consult our top life insurance attorneys.