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Posted by: Landry Butler on Mar 19, 2018

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Richard J. Braun, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edna Aileen Crecelius.

Attorneys 2:

D. Scott Parsley and Joshua G. Strickland, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wendy Ann Burton.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

This is an action by the ex-wife of the decedent to establish a constructive trust to the proceeds of a life insurance policy that are payable as a consequence of the death of the plaintiff’s ex-husband. In the 2011 Final Decree, the ex-husband was ordered to maintain a specified life insurance policy in the amount of $500,000 with the plaintiff to be designated as the sole beneficiary. Following the divorce, the ex-husband allowed the specified policy to lapse; however, he maintained a second life insurance policy that had a death benefit of $250,000 with seventy percent of the death benefits payable to the plaintiff and thirty percent to the decedent’s mother. Following the ex-husband’s death, the plaintiff commenced this action against the decedent’s mother and the insurance company. The decedent’s mother filed an answer in which she claimed the plaintiff had no legal rights to the insurance policy at issue. The decedent’s mother also claimed she had a vested right to her share of the death benefits based on an oral contract. The insurance company deposited the insurance proceeds into court and was dismissed from the case. Thereafter, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, relying principally on the holding in Holt v. Holt, 995 S.W.2d 68 (Tenn. 1999). We affirm, finding the decedent’s mother had no vested interest in the policy.