"Hello everyone! I know you aren't allowed to give advice, but I am praying someone can tell me where I stand in my situation. I have researched and tried to teach myself the laws governing insurance and welfare benefits specifically ERISA, but it is impossible to understand all of it. Over a year ago my stepfather of 15 years who had raised me since I was 5 years old murdered my mom and then committed suicide. A year before the murder my mom and I moved out, so they could take some time to figure things out in the marriage. They were NOT legally separated, communicated daily, and they got along great. My mom was a beautiful soul who always put my well being first, so she took only the things we needed and made sure my life continued to stay the same through this transition. He remained in my life almost daily as I was always back and forth between them or we were all
together and he continued to provide the same support. I celebrated his birthday with him two days before the murder, and the day before he came by to get all of mom's tax information to file their taxes together claiming me as the dependent as they had for the past 15 years. The next day when I arrived home from a college class I heard gunshots as I parked. When I exited my car, my stepfather made eye contact with me as he sped away instead of greeting me with a hug as he always did. I immediately knew something was wrong and ran inside to find my mother's lifeless body shot to death six times. I am still to this day in shock that a man I trusted and loved as a father could be capable of murder. Everything has been a nightmare, and my life forever changed that day. I lost my mother who was my best friend, betrayed by my stepfather, attending therapy for almost a year now from
severe PTSD, depression, anxiety, and nightmares. Every time I think I'm strong enough to handle the business aspect of this situation, I am only knocked back down by the laws which are intended to help make the victim and their family whole again doing exactly the opposite of what they were created to do.
After the murder two separate attorneys requested the policies in which my mom was the primary beneficiary and both were ignored. After speaking with my mom's best friend a few months ago who worked for the company also, I filed a claim for his insurance benefits when she told me my mom would have had to waive her rights to be removed as the beneficiary. They responded saying the benefits had been paid to the contingent beneficiary, and the case was closed. The reasons they gave were that the reports from the authorities showed she predeceased him, she would have to be
living at the time of his death, and if the deaths were considered simultaneously the contingent beneficiary is paid. They did not give any information on the appeal process, so I wrote back explaining that the reports from the authorities did show that my mom survived him based on the slayer law, so she would have been living at the time of his death, and the deaths were not simultaneous. I asked how to appeal the decision. A month later I received a response that the slayer law did not apply to life insurance and the benefits had been paid to a specific individual. They did not address how they determined that she predeceased him yet their deaths were simultaneous nor the fact that I was a dependent of both my mom and him and still did not provide the appeal process. The only thing I have found that may apply is obtaining a post death Domestic Relations Order, but I have been
unsuccessful in finding anyone who is even familiar with these situations until I found this forum. I just need to know if I have any rights based on the law to keep fighting, or if the laws are not in my favor. If the laws are against me, I will turn my attention to expanding the slayer laws by writing and telling my mom and my story to everyone who will listen.
So far I have heard that the insurance company has to respect his rights and pay to the beneficiary he designated. My response was what about my mom's rights? He took her right to live and then she is bypassed as a primary beneficiary, because he murdered her as if she had a choice in the matter and is being treated as though she didn't exist. I've also been told that if he wanted the money to go to me then he would have listed me as the contingent beneficiary. I responded by saying if that was the case then
you would be questioning my mom's beneficiary form also. I had just received a copy of the original beneficiary forms filled out by my mom and stepdad from the company and they filled them out on the same day both listing the contingent beneficiary of the same class of a relative since I was only 5 years old at the time where it remained in a file for 15 years. Her response was that they should have created a trust for me as the contingent beneficiary, because that is what she and her husband did for their kids. I wanted to say that if I could give you a gold star I would, but I tried to be respectful. I told her that is a brilliant idea, and I'll be sure to tell them except I CAN NOT. I do believe some of these people may be sharing the same bed with the company, so here I am hoping one of you will provide clarity.
I understand that the insurance companies need a system
for uniform distribution. I do not believe heirs of slayers should be disinherited. But I do believe dependents of the victim named a primary beneficiary murdered by the participant should come first and if the victim doesn't have dependents then the slayers dependents. If the slayer doesn't have dependents then distribute the money according to the plan. Since murder-suicide doesn't happen often, how much could it cost to do an IRS dependent check in these cases or in my case it was a known fact by the company. I believe in respecting the dead's wishes, but in these circumstances the slayer did not respect the living, so why should society continue to give them a voice after death when it could physically and mentally affect the lives of those dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy who was dependent upon them? My life will never be the same, but I refuse to let this
destroy me. My mission is to advocate for the individuals who may walk in my shoes in the future and give them hope when the world seems dark around them. This past year I have felt alone without any guidance on a top secret mission to discover the facts related to their employment. Then understanding the laws and your rights are impossible to comprehend. Everyone shows no compassion and could care less about you and encourages you to shut up and go away causing the loss of faith in people, companies, and the justice system. If I can prevent just one person from experiencing what I have, my mom's voice will finally be heard!
I am very young and only one semester away from obtaining a Bachelors Degree before beginning a masters program, so I know my opinions are emotionally and morally driven and not based on the facts of the law. I am open to all responses even if not in my
favor, because the more knowledge I can obtain, the faster I can move forward.
If you are still reading this, bless you....I know it is long. Thank you for caring enough to take the time to read this and hear me which is more than anyone else has done this past year.
Extra information: My mom and stepdad both worked for the same company for over 15 years. The company is very big and well known and very powerful. The welfare benefit plan included life insurance of over $400,000.00 already paid and my claim denied. It also included a stock and profit sharing plan and pension which I'm assuming has been paid out also, but I have not filed a claim. Based on the copy of the beneficiary form, my mom was the primary on all of them with the same contingent beneficiary that was paid the life insurance. Unlike myself having to open a probate estate for my mom, an estate was never
opened for him. I have finally received copies of the plan documents, so I can look for specific information if needed, but it seems they are all governed by ERISA.
I will be more than thankful for just a simple response of, 'Yes keep fighting' or 'Move forward and advocate for individuals in the future.' I have read through hundreds of pages on this forum, and many of you have helped me understand things more than anyone I have talked to thus far. I trust your expertise, and I know I will have peace moving forward in the process! Thank you so much!"