By Cyril Tuohy
A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court’s ruling awarding the proceeds of a life insurance policy to the son of a murdered man despite claims by the victim’s sister that she was entitled to the proceeds instead.
Angela Ashford sued to recover the proceeds from the policy after she claimed that Lenord Jones’ son, Quincy, was not her brother’s biological child, and that her brother insisted Quincy was his son as a way to conceal her sibling’s homosexuality.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court for the 7th Circuit, however, found that Jones, who did not designate a beneficiary and left no will, never had any intention of leaving the insurance policy proceeds to his sister.
“What is beyond doubt is that he had evinced no intent to leave money to his sister,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner
In the case, Minnesota Life Insurance Co. v. Quincy Jones and Angela Ashford, the appeals court found that Ashford had no grounds in challenging Quincy Jones’ benefits under the Illinois Parentage Act because a challenge to parentage can come only from a child, the mother, “or a man presumed to be the father by reason of marriage,” the court ruled. “Angela is none of these.”
According to the policy, proceeds were first to go to a surviving spouse, surviving children, surviving parents and, finally, to Jones’ estate.
Quincy Jones filed a claim after his father, a hospital worker, was murdered in 2011 in Harvey, Ill., according to court documents.
“Given the conflicting evidence of Lenord’s parentage of Quincy, ordering Quincy to submit to a DNA test would seem a no-brainer,” the court wrote. “Not so fast. The Illinois Parentage Act creates a presumption that a man is the natural father of a child if, so far as bears on this case, he and the children’s biological mother have signed an acknowledgement of paternity or, equivalently, of parentage.”
A district judge denied a motion to have Quincy Jones take a DNA test after Ashford admitted that her brother had pointed to Quincy as his biological son.
Lenord Jones and Quincy’s mother signed an order of parentage in 1996 indicating Quincy was his son.
Minnesota Life made an initial payment of $137,000 and $24,000 in funeral expenses out of a death benefit of nearly $307,000, according to court documents. Quincy Jones sought to collect on the remainder.
A separate claim by Annie Moore, a woman who claimed to be Lenord Jones’ daughter, was dropped after a DNA test proved Lenord was not her father.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.
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