The past year has witnessed the closing by judicial decision of two important gaps in the Washington community property law, both relating to life insurance proceeds. The first case in point of time, Occidental Life Insurance Company v. Powers, announced the rule that where the husband changes the beneficiary of a life insurance policy which is the property of the community because issued on the life of the husband during marriage and paid for with community funds, without the consent or knowledge of the wife, the former beneficiary, the attempted gift by the husband is ineffective and the wife may recover the entire proceeds. The second case, In re Coffey's Estate, solves a problem not touched upon in the Powers case, namely the status of a policy issued before marirage to a husband, the premiums for which are paid partly by the separate funds of the husband and partly by community funds. There the policy was held to be community property in the proportion that premiums were paid by community funds. The wife's one-half share of the community proportion so determined was held not subject to the state inheritance tax.
Russell V. Hokanson,
Life Insurance Proceeds as Community Property,
13 Wash. L. Rev. & St. B.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol13/iss4/6