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Sixth Circuit Upholds Decision that Divorce Decree Delivered After Death Is QDRO

A couple entered into a separation agreement, which was later incorporated into a divorce decree, in which they agreed to maintain any employer-related life insurance policies for the benefit of their minor child until she turned 18 or graduated from high school. At the time, the father had an employer-sponsored life insurance policy through Sun Life that listed his uncle as the sole beneficiary. The father died without changing the designated beneficiary to his daughter. After his death, but before payment of the life insurance benefits, the daughter’s attorney provided Sun Life with a copy of the divorce decree and separation agreement. Nevertheless, Sun Life paid the benefits to the deceased father’s uncle, and the daughter then sued Sun Life for failing to follow the terms of a qualified domestic relations order (“QDRO”). A federal district court originally held that the daughter was entitled to the life insurance benefits, and… Continue Reading

Employer’s Fiduciary Liability for Failing to Provide Life Insurance Conversion Notice

An employee went out on long-term disability leave due to a brain tumor. The employee and his wife had a meeting with the employer’s benefits team, during which the couple was told “everything would remain the same,” including how to keep their benefits the same during and after the leave period. However, conversion of the employee’s life insurance coverage after his leave expired was not discussed. The employee was mailed a leave packet describing the continuation of benefits during leave; it stated that life insurance could be continued for the duration of the leave, that a conversion policy may be available, and to contact the benefits department for specific details. When the life insurance benefit claim was submitted after the employee’s death, the benefits employee indicated that the employee was still on a FMLA leave of absence, and life insurance coverage was still in effect at the time of death,… Continue Reading

October 2019
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