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Life insurance payouts and slayer statutes add to family’s burden p4

Fri Jun 6th, 2014 on     Insurance Claims,    

The tragedy of the Susan Powell case is almost unimaginable. The wife and mother of two disappeared in 2009. Her husband, Josh, was a suspect but was never charged. Not too long after Susan’s disappearance, Josh killed himself and the couple’s two sons.

A few years later, Josh’s brother Michael committed suicide. Police had suspected he was involved in Susan’s disappearance, but, again, charges were never brought against him. Josh had named his brother as a beneficiary on one of his life insurance policies. Michael’s estate is now the beneficiary.

The trouble was not confined to Josh’s generation, either. Josh’s father was sent to prison for voyeurism, He was released just recently, but his problems aren’t over: He was ordered to pay $2 million in damages to two of his young victims, and the judgment is still outstanding. He has waived his claim to any life insurance benefits — the money could be used to pay the judgment — but there are questions about how long he will hold to that.

On Susan’s side of the family, her father, Charles Cox, is standing in for Susan as conservator of her assets. Legally, it seems, Susan is still alive. She will not be declared dead until the fifth anniversary of her disappearance in December. Because she is still alive, she is still a beneficiary, according to a recent court ruling.

In the wake of all of these events, Susan’s parents are left with no answers about their daughter but a heap of paperwork and claim litigation over life insurance policies. On the other side of the table sit most of Josh’s family, reeling from their losses as well.

Josh had changed the beneficiaries on his life insurance policy many times after Susan’s disappearance. As we said in our last post, the court divided the proceeds from that policy — and the policy’s riders on the two boys — evenly between the families.

It turned out, though, that there was a second life insurance policy.

We’ll wrap this up next week.


Deseret News, “Judge orders Josh Powell life insurance money be split 50-50,” Pat Reavy, May 19, 2014

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

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