Can a Meat-Eater Leave His Insurance to a Vegetarian?
A recent estate planning controversy makes us think of this question. In that case, called the Vegetarian Society vs. Jennifer Scott, a meat-eating millionaire left 80% of his estate to a Vegetarian Society. His family challenge the will, on the grounds he lacked mental capacity.
Why on earth would a meat-eater leave money to vegetarians? My initial answer is: who cares? It is his money.
Thinking as a life insurance man, I immediately ponder whether or not a life insurance company would allow such an arrangement. Could my client the beef-lover designate a vegetarian society as his beneficiary? A few thoughts come immediately to mind.
1) Diet is not typically a question asked on a life insurance application. Unless the applicant has a special menu to address a health or medical concern, whether or not he eats meat is irrelevant.
2) Insurable interest is an important principle in a life insurance contract. However, the interest typically must lie between the insured and the policy owner, not the insured and the beneficiary. If the meat-eating insured is the owner of his own policy, he can have more latitude in choosing a beneficiary.
3) Charitable giving is an important function of life insurance planning. Donors and supporters often leave policy benefits to the organizations close to their heart. If the vegetarian society is a charity, then they can be endowed with a very meaningful legacy.
Do you have any organizations close to your heart?