Brief Fact Summary. Douglas Cook named the appellant, Doris Cook, the beneficiary of his life insurance policy. When he divorced, he executed a will leaving his insurance policy benefits to his new wife. However Cook failed to notify the insurance holder that he wanted to change the beneficiary of his policy.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Beneficiaries of a life insurance policy may not be changed by a will if the policy contract provides a specific method for changing beneficiaries.
However, the rule recognizes substantial compliance with the requirements of the policy as being sufficient to change a beneficiary so long as the insured has done everything within his power to effect such a change.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether a testator may change the beneficiary of his life insurance policy through a will even though it does not comply with the prescribed method in the insurance policy.
Held. No. A testator must comply with the rules of the insurance policy to effect a change of beneficiary. Strict compliance with insurance policy requirements is necessary to change a beneficiary under the policy. The insurer, the insured, and beneficiary should be able to rely on the certainty that policy provisions relating to the naming and changing of beneficiaries will control
Discussion. Courts will protect the expectation interest of a beneficiary under a policy. Because the testator remarried, his first wife would not have known that he had changed her as the beneficiary because he changed it in his will and not with the Society.