Sometimes determining the correct beneficiary for ERISA-governed life insurance benefits can present real challenges. 

Can the deceased’s will prove the deceased’s intent designating the correct beneficiary?  It depends on the language of the will.

A Plan administrator, vested with discretion, can choose to excuse technical errors in beneficiary-designation forms or it can elect to enforce

How will a court construe ambiguities in ERISA plan terms?

If the plan confers discretion to the administrator “to interpret plan terms,” ambiguities may NOT be construed against the plan administrator.

Here’s the case of Porter v. Lowe’s Companies, __ F.3d__ (5th Cir. September 24, 2013) (PDF).

FACTS: Elizabeth Porter, employed with Lowe’s

If you practice in the Ninth Circuit, you’ll want to read this one.

Is it an abuse of discretion if the plan fails to have an Independent Medical Examination which includes a “personal examination”?

Until now there has been no Ninth Circuit case stating that the plan abused discretion by failing to have a physician’s