Visitor Question

Intestate Mistake…

Submitted By: Suzan (Eugene, OR)

My life partner’s life insurance beneficiary form was lost by his employer. As a result the insurance went to his three children: a gambling drunk, a marijuana addict/grower, and a meth addict. I am on the verge of losing my home and all my assets as a result of this action.

The employer also lost the beneficiary form for the retirement account, which was my money anyway, and the kids almost got that too. Fortunately for me, the broker of our account had a beneficiary form supporting my claim. Do I have any recourse? Can I do anything about the employer losing the life insurance beneficiary form? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Suzan,

Unfortunately, your life partner died “intestate.” Intestate means a person dies without a will, as opposed to a person dying with a will, referred to as dying “testate.”

If a person dies testate, then the decedent’s will controls who will receive the decedent’s assets. If a person dies intestate, then state law controls the conveyance of property left in the decedent’s estate.

When a person dies intestate, the decedent’s estate will be administered by a probate judge who in turn will appoint a “trustee” to assist with the distribution of the assets in the decedent’s estate, and the final filing of a sworn inventory and appraisement, effectively ending the distribution of assets and closing the estate.

To read Oregon’s detailed statutes controlling intestate succession, go here: Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 112 — Intestate Succession and Wills

Here is a portion of Chapter 112:

“112.045 Share of others than surviving spouse. The part of the net intestate estate not passing to the surviving spouse shall pass:

(1) To the issue of the decedent. Issue of different generations in relation to the decedent take by representation as defined in ORS 112.065. (The term “issue” refers to biological family members.)

(2) If there is no surviving issue or spouse, to the surviving parents of the decedent.

(3) If there is no surviving issue, spouse or parent, to the brothers and sisters of the decedent and the issue of any deceased brother or sister of the decedent…”

Your late life partner’s employer may have lost the beneficiary form, but the insurance company surely has the original form in its file. This presumes your partner’s employer filed the form with the life insurance company. This should also be the case with your late partner’s retirement account.

Contact the trustee of your your late partner’s estate. Ask the trustee if he or she used due diligence to inquire as to whether or not your late partner had a beneficiary form.

If the trustee did do his or her due diligence, and was unable to find any evidence your late partner completed and submitted those forms, then your recourse would be to file suit against your late partner’s employer for being negligent in failing to file the beneficiary forms.

However, before filing suit you must have substantial evidence your late partner executed the beneficiary forms and gave them to his or her employer with the specific intent of having the forms filed.

Learn more here: Compensation for Emotional Distress

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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