Friday, February 25, 2011

Life Insurance Beneficiary

I got an interesting query on life insurance.
Here is the situation:
Tatay lived a colorful life. In his lifetime he had a legal wife and children.
Later tatay separated from his legitimate family and lived with a paramour.
Tatay and paramour bore a child named R-Jay.
While living with paramour, Tatay got a life insurance naming his paramour and their minor illegitimate child R-Jay as beneficiary.
Tatay died.
Two groups now seek to claim the proceeds of Tatay’s life insurance.
First, the legitimate family members (wife and children) claim they are entitled to the insurance proceeds being the legal hers.
On the other side is paramour (with her illegitimate child R-Jay) claiming they are entitled to the proceeds since they were the named beneficiaries.
The question posed to me was: who gets the insurance proceeds, the legitimates, the paramour and her child, or share in accordance with rules on succession?
There is a rule taken from American law that whoever is named as beneficiary gets the life insurance proceeds.
Insurance proceeds are likened to a donation, a gift out of liberality.
In our case, paramour is disqualified from becoming a beneficiary of a life insurance, even if she was expressly written as one.
The mandate of Article 2012 of the Civil Code cannot be laid aside: any person who cannot receive a donation cannot be named as beneficiary in the life insurance policy of the person who cannot make the donation.
The Civil Code also bars donations between common law spouses (not married).
“Policy considerations and dictates of morality rightly justify the institution of a barrier between common law spouses in record to Property relations since such ultimately encroaches upon the nuptial and filial rights of the legitimate family,” said the Supreme Court.
The legitimates cannot also receive the insurance proceeds.
Life insurance proceeds out of special contract.
With a beneficiary, the proceeds will not belong to the category of “inheritable” items.
It is only in cases were there is no beneficiary or when the beneficiary is disqualified by law to receive the proceeds that the insurance policy proceeds shall redound to the benefit of the estate of the insured.
So it is the illegitimate child R-Jay who is entitled to the insurance proceeds.
“No legal prosprciption exists in naming as beneficiaries, children of illicit relations by the insured,” said the Supreme Court.
But since R-Jay is still a minor, someone, likely the paramour (mother) should have herself appointed by the court as legal guardian first.
Until the court appoints a guardian in behalf of the minor illegitimate, the insurance company can withhold the release of the check.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Angelo T. Reyes: Lessons learned

There are many lessons to be learned from the tragic death of Angelo T. Reyes, former Armed Forces Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary.
Reyes, who served government for almost half a century, shot himself Tuesday after hearings in the senate and congress linked him to anomalies in the Armed Forces.
Reyes plunged deep into depression after having been publicly pilloried in the senate hearings.
He himself revealed there was a concerted effort to destroy him.
When the public humiliation extended to his family, he wouldn’t allow it.
One of the lessons which I hope will be addressed is the way congressional investigations are conducted.
I once worked as a lawyer in this Blue Ribbon Committee more than a decade ago.
Things were different then.
Senators participating in blue ribbon hearings accorded respect to their resource persons.
Unfortunately, over the years, things have turned for the worst.
Resource persons, invited to senate house investigations are instantly converted into virtual accused, even criminals.
Senate investigations have become an arena for political grandstanding, headline-grabbing, power-tripping and ego enhancement, and personal vendetta.
This is not the kind of senate hearing that our constitution envisioned.
Senate hearings have a specific purpose, that is, it must be in aid of legislation, not in aid of persecution.
One of the changes we want to see in the senate is the imposition of restraint in the treatment of resource persons because these invitees come not as persons accused in a criminal case.
Senate hearings should not be likened to a police interrogation.
The best way to learn how to conduct congressional investigations properly is to watch C-SPAN coverage of U.S. congressional investigations (unfortuntately you will not see a Jinggoy Estrada manner of questioning there).
We wish to see changes in the manner of treating resources persons who invoke the right against self incrimination.
This is a very important constitutional right which insulates a person him from becoming a witness against himself.
Yet, I have sensed that this constitutional protection has been emasculated by senators who feel discomfort every time a guest invokes this right.
Again, the senate is not an arena for criminal investigation that is why leeway must be given to guests who invoke the right to refuse to be a witness against himself.
What is happening is that the senators will have to evaluate every time a resource person invokes this right.
The senators will determine whether the availment of the right by the resource person was proper.
In the United States, resource persons in congressional investigations are respected when they invoke the Fifth Amendment.
The Fifth Amendment of the U..S. Constitution is the counterpart guarantee against self incrimination.
This is in recognition of long-recognized supreme court interpretation that the privilege against self incrimination extends not only to answers that support a conviction of a crime, but also those which merely furnish a link in the chain of evidence needed to prosecute a claimant for a crime (Hoffman versus United States 341 U.S. 479)
Since a senate investigation is not a criminal inquisition, the senate should leave criminal probes to proper bodies like the office of the ombudsman and the department of justice and just focus on the proposed legislation being considered.
What is happening is that when a resource person invokes his right against self incrimination, the senators will insist in forcing the recourse person to give an anticipated answer already lingering in the legislators’ minds.
And if unsuccessful, they threaten the resource person with contempt and deprivation of liberty.
Worse they threaten to bring their family into the hearing.
What kind of legislative investigation is that?
I believe the sacred right against self incrimination that protects all of us individuals is being unconstitutionally diluted and emasculated in congressional inquiries.
I hope the death of Angelo T. Reyes will serve as a constant reminder that congressional inquiries should not endanger individual liberties and tromp personal dignity.
Legislators should not demean themselves and the institutions they represent.