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Life & Health Insurance/Beneficiary changed on wrong policy

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Question
I visited my agent to inquire about annuities and my options with life insurance proceeds since my ex-husband was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness and I still had a policy on him.
At the same time I requested a beneficiary change on my personal policy. The policy numbers are one digit apart.
You can see what's coming: the agent changed the beneficiary on the wrong policy, the one for my ex-husband.
My ex-husband passed away in February. It took a while to get the death certificate, and I just submitted my claim to the insurance company at the beginning of June.
I just received the confirmation notice that the beneficiary was changed on the policy on my ex-husband, but it's dated before his death.
It's not a problem to get the insurance proceeds from my daughter, but since it would be considered a gift from her to me I would have to pay income tax on the money if it is passed to me in this way.
What recourse do I have with the agent / company? He remembers our conversation and admits that the beneficiary was changed on the wrong policy, but what do I do to get them to reverse this to prevent the tax liability? He is telling me that he's not sure he can get it corrected retroactively.
Thank you.

Answer
Your question is a legal one and should be answered by an attorney, but I do recall that there are provisions in the law in some cases for making retroactive changes in contracts in order to correct clerical errors.  It sounds like this was just a clerical error as it seems all parties agree that the change that was requested by  you was made incorrectly.  What I don't know is if that principle can be applied in this case.  I'm sure that an good business attorney can help.

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William Hezzelwood

Expertise

I can answer almost any question about life insurance, such as: 1) What kinds of life insurance are available? 2) I have an old policy that is in danger of lapsing...should I pay more money into it? 3) I think my insurance company is not treating me fairly...do I have grounds to sue them? 4) My agent has proposed that I buy insurance from company X...is that a good, reputable company?

Experience

I am recently retired from a 40-year career as an actuary for a major life insurance company. I worked in the life insurance division and had a wide variety of responsibilities, such as: product development, systems development and management, field compensation, and program management.

Organizations
Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (by examination) Member of the American Academy of Actuaries Member of the Forensic Expert Witness Association Member of the American Association of Economic and Financial Experts Member of the National Association of Forensic Economics Member of the Financial Planning Association of Orange County

Education/Credentials
I have a B.S. in Business Administration (major in Actuarial Science) from Drake University.

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