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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.

Estate planning worksheet

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?