Clifton v. Anthony, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28920 (E.D. Tex. 2005)
Judge: Ron Clark, Division: Lufkin
Holding: Ruling on interpleader action
This interpleader case was filed by American Heritage Life Insurance Company (AHLIC) to determine the beneficiaries of four life insurance policies issued by AHLIC on the life of Jared Belser. The policies were issued as part of the employee benefits for which Jared's wife, Shy Anne Belser applied and on which she was the primary beneficiary.The beneficiary was convicted of the murder of the insured, her husband, so the issue was who the proceeds of the policies were payable to. The case eventually came down to two claimants - the decedent's daughter by another woman, and the decedent's mother in law (the convicted wife's mother). Two policies did not name a contingent beneficiary, and therefore the court awarded those to the daughter as nearest kin (who did not kill the beneficiary). Two policies did name the decedent's mother in law as contingent beneficiary, but Texas law requires that the insured authorize the signing of the policy or consent to the naming of the contingent beneficiary, and Judge Clark held that the mother in law had not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the decedent either authorized his wife to sign the policies (it was undisputed that she signed his name to one and Judge Clark found as trier of fact that she signed the other as well) or intended to name her as contingent beneficiary, and therefore the proceeds of those policies went to the daughter as well.