My Mother Took Out a Life Insurance Policy On Me Without My Consent
August 2, 2015 11:35 PM   Subscribe

How do I make sure she doesn't ever benefit from my untimely death?

My mom asked me for my social randomly because, she said, for her new job she needed to add her children to her pension, or something like that, some lie. I was immediately suspicious of her, and should have trusted my gut instinct and told her that I wasn't interested in giving it to her. But she's my mother right, why wouldn't I give that to her? I then came to find out that she had actually taken a life insurance policy out on me, and apparently on both of my other siblings. I know this because, during the one time each year that I see her, Christmas, she blurted, "this sounds really bad, but I have life insurance on you guys." You guys meaning myself and my siblings. That's when I realized that she had lied to me to get my social so she could get the policy on me. She obviously forged my signature and applied for the policy with my social. She didn't tell me she was doing this, let alone ask me. I see her once a year, and rarely speak to her. She took this policy out on me so in case I get hit by a bus, she can cash out. I need to make sure that she can never do this, not only because it infuriates me, but because she's taken this policy out on me without my knowledge or consent and I'm pretty sure that's illegal. I would have never consented to her taking a life insurance policy out on me. I'm not her dependent. I don't rely on her financially in any way, and haven't accepted financial help from her since I was 19. That was nearly 10 years ago. I don't have children that she would be left to care for. And frankly, if I died she'd probably find out months if not a year after the fact. My assets would cover any expenses that might come from dealing with my death, which she would not be involved in being that I've instructed my partner and my father in these matters and in my will. There is no excuse for this policy except that she's playing the lotto. It's sick and it just reiterates my position that unfortunately, I don't have a good mother.

I understand that no one here is offering legal advice or is liable for any opinions they present. Apart from launching an investigation and having her arrested for fraud, how can I prevent her from cashing out if I die in a plane crash?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It absolutely is illegal. I would take this to civil court. I'm not a lawyer by any stretch but this is inexcusable.

I'm sorry this happened to you. That's absolutely disgusting.
posted by WhitenoisE at 11:44 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Maybe use a lost life insurance company to find out which insurance company wrote the policy. Then contact the company directly to get it cancelled.
Of course she could just take out a new one, so you may need to get a court order that could be filed with the major companies.
posted by Sophont at 11:57 PM on August 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

Consider that she might just be delusional. Most term life insurance requires a medical exam -- particularly for a young person -- or access to recent medical records, and life insurance requires that the beneficiary has insurable interest, meaning they can show they are dependent on the insured. You generally can't get these things from just having an SSN.

If it's really fraud -- she's intercepted all correspondence from the insurance company and made them believe her at every step of the way -- then she's a supervillain, because this is hard to do.

And in the end, it's easy for you to call up the insurance company and talk to them. They'd love to hear that they've taken her money and won't have to pay anything out.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:16 AM on August 3, 2015 [10 favorites]

It absolutely is illegal. I would take this to civil court. I'm not a lawyer by any stretch but this is inexcusable.

Not necessarily true. There are cases where a parent/adult child relationship has been upheld as an insurable interest. (See e.g. this review article which has way more detail than you probably care about, and plenty of citations to case law.) It's certainly possible that OP's situation wouldn't be considered valid by a judge, but it would depend on the jurisdiction. In any case, to win a civil suit, wouldn't you have to be able to show damages? The insurance company would probably be able to do that, especially if OP's mom misrepresented anything when applying for the policy, but OP probably couldn't.

OP, if this is so important to you, you really need to consult a lawyer instead of relying on advice from the Internet.
posted by teraflop at 12:38 AM on August 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

IF she forged your signature or did something else that would invalidate the policy I'd make sure anyone likely to survive me knew about it and then I'd let her keep paying the premiums.

In the event of your untimely death, your partner/siblings/father or whoever else you've told would inform the insurance company of the fraud and your mother wouldn't get a penny. (and pretty sure she wouldn't get a penny back of the money she'd been paying in for years)

TBH, I'm not sure why you're bothered, it doesn't really affect you. Unless you have a risky lifestyle or are already unwell. the chance of your mother surviving you is low and its not like life insurance is free - she's paying for it. Every single month that you live, she is paying insurance premiums. So live a long, happy life and let her waste her money on a policy she'll never be able to collect on
posted by missmagenta at 1:21 AM on August 3, 2015 [10 favorites]

This sounds very upsetting and frustrating, though you are very unlikely to die and she's pretty much just wasting her money being a nasty person. I understand why this information is like a hot needle jabbing into you, and why you want to do what you can to stop it.

However, because you know your mother now has access to crucial information of yours, there are things she could do with it that would have far worse effects on your life. I don't know if you've considered this yet, but it might be good to think about it and potentially take some defensive actions. More than half of identity theft cases are committed by parents (who often already have access to personal information like SSNs and can fraudulently open credit accounts for their children).

* Consider freezing your credit so that new lines of credit cannot be opened willy nilly
* You can sign up for a credit monitoring service or make sure to be scrupulous about rotating your free credit checks with the big three credit bureaus once every four months to get good coverage
* Know that if she does try and succeeds, the only way to get off the hook for the debts is to turn her in to the authorities. Very often children are not emotionally able to do this to their parents and get stuck paying for the fraud.

When I learned that my father tried to take out a payday loan with my sister's information at one point, I realized that I had to become a lot more careful. I didn't know if he would ever do anything like that to me, but it was no longer an unthinkable possibility. His attempt with my sister was denied as her credit was very poor. Mine isn't so I felt very vulnerable.
posted by foxfirefey at 1:40 AM on August 3, 2015 [22 favorites]

If I might offer a small counterargument - my parents have always held a life insurance policy on me, to handle any expenses that would come with my death. It's absolutely not an unheard-of thing; deaths can be very costly. It never required my signature; it was obtained when I was a small child. If your mother is listed as your next of kin, then she would have expenses in the event of your death. I would ask her about it further, before you rush to judgment. I would guess that she wouldn't have told you, if she planned to get rich off your demise.
posted by backwards compatible at 5:49 AM on August 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

I am wondering - I used to work (in a very entry-level capacity) for a life insurance company, and at least the company I worked for (US-based) would not have issued a policy on an adult child to the parents absent some very compelling reason (ie, parents are disabled, you are their only support). In fact, I remember that the company turned down a case where the children wanted to insure the parents for no particular reason - it was considered "moral hazard", in that the children were considered to have more interest in the parents' deaths than in their life. Basically, you're not supposed to insure someone's life unless there's a compelling and documentable reason that you're going to be significantly financially injured by their death, and this holds true for adult children and parents. It's slightly different with minors.

The company would have issued a relatively small policy on a healthy young adult (if you were married and your spouse took it out, for example) without a medical exam. You would have to sign the paperwork and it would be void if you had lied about something major and obvious (saying you didn't smoke when you did, saying you had no history of major medical problems but had really had cancer in your early twenties). In those cases, an exam and further investigation would be needed, although in general those people were insurable.

This sounds very sketchy to me, like your mother either did some major lying or it's a very shady insurance company. She has to have, at the very least, forged your signature and medical history, and quite possibly have faked some kind of phone health history interview. It's quite, quite possible that it won't pay out in any case and your mother will be on the hook for fraud.
posted by Frowner at 6:10 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

My parents have burial policies on me, my brother, and, I think, my children. After my older brother passed suddenly and my dad had to borrow money for funeral expenses, it was just a logical financial move for them to get these policies. I don't remember signing or giving permission. Check into it, she may just have a basic policy that would cover her travel expenses and time off from work if one of you were to die. She could have been renewing her car or home insurance and fell for a strong sales pitch, without having any prior plans of taking a cruise in your memory. At any rate, she grew you in her body and wiped your butt for you when your arms where still too short and coordinated to do it on your own- it might be okay to just let this one go. If you are dead, you won't care anyway.
posted by myselfasme at 6:57 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

It could be a whole life policy. I don't understand them, but I guess you can eventually borrow against them?

My advice, as someone with a terrible mother who does intrusive shit like this all the time, is to let this particular thing go, and most of all, don't provide her any attention or interaction as a result. She wants to get to you. Don't let her.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:01 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

If I might offer a small counterargument - my parents have always held a life insurance policy on me, to handle any expenses that would come with my death.

I have such policies for my minor children. The benefit is a rather modest amount, for the purposes described in the quoted comment.

A person can purchase a life insurance policy on anyone so long as there is an insurable interest, as referenced in the linked article teraflop's comment. I can tell you that in my jurisdiction, a parents' life insurance policy on their adult child was enforced because the insurance company took responsibility for getting the adult child's signature but never did. A direct quote from that case is, "An insurable interest may be predicated upon any relation such as warrants the conclusion that the person claiming the interest has an interest, arising from natural affection, in the life of the insured. It was undisputed that the McKenzies had such an interest in Raker's life, so that they could make application for a policy covering him and be entitled to any benefits and rights provided therein."

Maybe your state has a statute requiring your consent but it is a incorrect statement of law to say that a person cannot purchase a life insurance policy on someone else's life. Frankly, I don't think this this a matter you can do much about. Whether or not the policy is enforceable is only going to become relevant if (1) you predecease your mother (2) while the policy is current. If there is an enforceability problem, I guarantee the insurance company will try to deny coverage. My advice is just to let your mother waste her money.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

As others have mentioned, insurable interest enables someone to take out a policy on someone else. Since a parent is generally considered to have an interest in their child's life, that part is reasonable. Your employer, for example, can also take out a policy on your life, to protect their interest in case you die/are incapacitated/are somehow unable to perform your job. They do not need your permission to protect their own interests, and it will not impact your ability to get insurance, for example.

But without any sort of medical exam, it's not going to be for a lot of money, especially for an adult. Insurance companies have a very low threshold of trust.

If your mother committed fraud (forged signature, required your consent, etc.), the insurance company would deny coverage once it was exposed. They'd probably refund her premiums, though.

You can try contacting the insurance company, explain the situation, and alert them to the possibility of fraud. They'll be quick to look into that if they think someone's trying to trick them in any way.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:14 AM on August 3, 2015

Since a parent is generally considered to have an interest in their child's life, that part is reasonable.

True, but most of the time, the policies are limited to actual children, people under certain ages, and they can expire when the child comes of age.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:03 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Your mother may be considered to have an insurable interest in your life. Your death might cost her the unexpected expenses of burying you, and you could be an ongoing source of income to her, which would be lost at the time of your death, as far as the insurance company is concerned.

Is your mom going to murder you in an insidious way that cannot be traced back to her? I hope not. Is your mom wasting some money by betting that she will outlive you? I hope so. Your best revenge is to live well. Take no foolish risks, see your doctor regularly for check-ups, cut down on the red meat. Make her bet a losing bet.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 9:56 AM on August 3, 2015

I have a policy on my daughter's life for a hefty amount. She has two small children and is married to someone who has few resources, lives across the globe from his fractured family, and could not shoulder the cost of a nanny should my daughter die. He loves the children and would be involved, but I think that in the end we, the maternal grandparents, would end up housing and educating the children. The policy is to pay for those costs. My daughter is aware of and supports this approach because she has the same worries. She had to have a medical exam for a policy of the amount we purchased.

It sounds like your objection is mostly around the belief that your mother did this behind your back in order to profit from your death. As others have said, the amount of the policy can't be large without a medical exam. Have you made provisions to pay for the cost of your death? Does your mother know this, if you have? Someone will have to shoulder these costs, and perhaps your mother wants to be able to do so without going into debt or using her retirement fund.
posted by citygirl at 9:57 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

A lot of people are suggesting the "to pay for anonymous' funeral" angle, so I'd like to point out that this doesn't seem to be applicable here:

"I don't have children that she would be left to care for ... My assets would cover any expenses that might come from dealing with my death, which she would not be involved in being that I've instructed my partner and my father in these matters and in my will."

Anonymous, I wish I had advice for you, as this sounds understandably galling. I would be pissed.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:10 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Since this event has gotten you thinking along these lines, it is also a good time to make sure that you have an up-to-date advance health care directive and will. You can sometimes get a directive created easily through your health care provider. If anything happens to you where perhaps you're not-quite-dead or otherwise incapacitated, you absolutely need to make sure that your wishes will be carried out without interference from people who may have other motives.
posted by homesickness at 12:25 PM on August 3, 2015

This doesn't strike me as that odd. I'm 25 and parents have life insurance policies on me and my siblings. We're also the beneficiaries on theirs.

However, I don't have an issue with my parent setting the money if I die. One I'll be dead and two they cosigned my student loans so I'd hope if I died that they could have a viable way to pay them off.

That doesn't seem to be the case here but I only mention it to say maybe there's a legitimate reason.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 4:21 PM on August 3, 2015

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