Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Interviews Atty. Eric D. Correira

Atty. Eric D. Correira was interviewed by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly regarding a recent United States District Court decision involving whether an email exchange between an unmarried couple purporting to establish the financial terms of their separation divested the ex-girlfriend of her right to proceeds from the ex-boyfriend’s life insurance policy, for which she was the named beneficiary at the time of his death, and whether that same email exchange divested the ex-girlfriend from her interest in funds from the ex-boyfriend’s 401(k) plan after he deposited the funds into their joint bank account a year after their breakup, and shortly before committing suicide.

In McCormick v. Lischynsky, D. Mass. C.A. No. 19-10433, on a motion for summary judgment filed by the ex-girlfriend, the Court applied well established law that the owner of life insurance has full control over naming the beneficiary of the policy, and that the email exchange had no impact on the ex-girlfriend’s right to the insurance proceeds. However, the Court also found that the email exchange was a valid contract, and that there was not enough evidence in the record to dismiss the ex-boyfriend’s estate’s  claim to the 401(k) funds in the joint bank account, allowing the conversion claim to survive summary judgment.

From the article: “[A]ttorney Eric D. Correira said that while it would have been premature for the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim regarding the 401(k) funds without more facts, the judge did not find at this point that the email exchange divested Lischynsky of her rights to the joint bank account.

At the same time, he said, the case shows the danger of making someone a joint owner on a bank account for one purpose, such as paying bills — as McCormick did in this case — without considering that at death the joint owner will then be the presumed sole owner of the account.

‘In many instances, joint ownership is perfectly fine. But it should always be done with an understanding that one joint owner will be entitled to all of the assets at the other’s death,’ he said.”

For the full article, click here.