Life Insurance

Life Insurance

Disputes over life insurance benefits usually involve challenges to the named beneficiary on the policy and therefore who should receive the funds.

The sooner counsel is retained and a challenge is made, the better. Once the proceeds are paid to the beneficiary, recovery becomes more difficult.

Ramey & Flock has recovered life insurance funds for clients on several occasions. In one case, the Firm won a summary judgment in the client’s favor for the full amount of the $150,000 policy.

Whether the policyholder lacked mental capacity or was unduly influenced to make the beneficiary designation can be the basis of the contest. The relevant evidence on these claims is like the evidence in a will contest.

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Powers of Attorney

Persons holding a power of attorney (POA) can abuse those powers and can transfer substantial amounts of funds for their own benefit, at the expense of the person granting the POA and that person’s heirs. Ramey & Flock has been involved in many cases involving alleged abuse of powers of attorney, one of which involved a contested transfer of over $16 million.

Actions taken under a POA must always be in the best interest of the person granting the POA, and the person holding the POA has a duty to account for all transactions.

Texas has recently adopted much of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, making suits against a fiduciary for misuse of a power of attorney much more available. The new act considerably broadens the persons who can sue.

Bank Accounts

Bank account designations can be subject to claims of undue influence or lack of capacity, among other disputed issues. It is very important to seek legal advice as soon as possible, as many times the banks pay out the funds shortly after death and the funds then become very difficult to recover from those receiving them.

Ramey & Flock has successfully represented clients in bank account disputes, one of which involved a trial that resulted in a recovery of 100% of the funds for the client, over $250,000 in total. In another case, the Firm was able to force the production of records that revealed the improper transfer of over $790,000 by a person who had joint access to the client’s bank account.

In a 2017 case from the Tyler Court of Appeals, a signature card on a commonly used form failed to establish a right of survivorship in a bank account.  Legal advice should be sought to determine if the language applicable to the account in question is sufficient to transfer funds to the designated person(s).

Guardianship

Ramey & Flock has extensive experience in guardianships, including cases involving the elderly, persons born with a mental disability, and minors.  The Firm has represented those seeking to be the guardian as well as defended clients for whom the proposed guardianship was not appropriate.  The Firm has also filed guardianships to prevent financial abuse of the elderly.

In one recent case, Ramey & Flock assisted a client in claiming his share to a guardianship estate valued at over $3,000,000.

Trusts

The most common trust disputes are (1) fiduciary violations by the trustee; (2) seeking to change to a new trustee; and (3) changing the terms of a trust.

Many trusts remain active several decades after inception, and they need to be revised to continue to function well. A lawsuit is usually required to change the trust terms, so retaining the right attorney for the job is critical.

Ramey & Flock has successfully helped clients get trust terms modified, to change from one trustee to another, and has represented both trustees and beneficiaries in litigation regarding allegations of trustee abuse.

On more than one occasion Ramey & Flock has participated in contested trials where abusive trustees were held accountable for their misdeeds and were removed from office.  In one case, the Firm’s client recovered over $1,350,000 as a result of fiduciary wrongdoing by a trustee, and in another the Firm’s clients recovered real estate valued at over $1,000,000.

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