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Life insurance payouts and slayer statutes add to family’s burden p2

Fri May 30th, 2014 on     Insurance Claims,    

We are discussing a court decision involving the life insurance policies of a family in Washington state. No, the case did not come out of Florida, and let’s hope nothing like it ever does. The situation is both heartbreaking and mind-boggling.

When their daughter disappeared in 2009, Susan Powell’s parents sought custody of her children, two boys who were living with their father, Susan’s husband Josh. As we explained in our last post, the police believed she had been murdered, and Josh was a suspect. They were never able to charge him, though, and he moved from Utah to Washington. In 2012, in the midst of the custody fight, Josh killed the boys and himself.

Left behind for the families to deal with were the payouts from three life insurance policies covering the couple and their boys. Who would collect was not an easy question to answer, and the court was soon involved.

Among the problems is the state’s slayer statute. Like Florida, Washington bars anyone who has caused or contributed to someone’s death from benefiting from the crime. If Josh had been convicted of Susan’s murder, then, he would not have inherited any part of her estate, he would not have been able to collect any life insurance payouts, and he would not have been able to sell the rights to his story to Lifetime Television. No profits, no how.

Josh was dead, though, as were the boys. The question for the court, then, was whether the slayer statute extended to members of the killer’s — or presumed killer’s — family. Susan’s parents, Charles and Judy Cox, thought the prohibition should apply to Josh’s family. Their reasoning may have had as much to do with certain family members as it did with Josh. We’ll explain more in our next post.

Source: KOMO News, “Judge splits Josh, Susan Powell insurance money,” Associated Press, May 19, 2014

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