Insurance company asks judge who benefits from murdered San Jacinto man
New York Life Insurance Co. is asking a judge to determine who is entitled to a slain Riverside County man’s $61,000 death benefit given that the victim’s widow, the sole beneficiary, is ineligible for the money for having killed him.
The insurer filed court papers in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday stating that Kendra Smith is disqualified from receiving the benefit left by 64-year-old Matthew Smith because the “California Slayer Statute” forbids her from receiving the money.
Kendra Smith, now 58, was arrested in December 2013 after stabbing her husband to death during an altercation at their San Jacinto home. She pleaded guilty in June in Riverside Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter and other charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Matthew Smith was a member of AARP and obtained a life insurance policy issued by New York Life to the Trustee of AARP Life Insurance Trust in January 2005, the suit states. In February 2012, he made a change to name his daughter, Mary Smith of Los Angeles, as the sole beneficiary, but he amended the policy again three months later designating his wife in that capacity, according to the lawsuit.
New York Life acknowledges that the death benefit became payable upon Matthew Smith’s Dec. 4, 2013, death, the suit states. In addition to Mary Smith, the slain man had a son, Reggie Smith of Barstow, the suit states. Reggie Smith’s mother was his court-appointed guardian, but she recently died and he may now be in the care of his sister, according to the lawsuit.
Given Kendra Smith’s disqualification, Mary and Reggie Smith are entitled under the insurance policy to split the death benefit, but no petition has been filed to administer Matthew Smith’s estate, the suits states.
“Under the circumstances, (New York Life) cannot determine … who is entitled to […]