McCleary v. Reliastar Life Ins. Co., No. 11-3169 (8th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Sandra Emas owned a life insurance policy issued by ReliaStar. The policy named her estate as the beneficiary. When Emas died intestate, she left her son, Jaysen McCleary, as her only heir. McCleary was appointed the administrator of his mother's estate. McCleary later filed for personal bankruptcy. McCleary, as the administrator of the estate, subsequently filed suit against ReliaStar, alleging that ReliaStar had wrongfully refused to pay the estate benefits under Emas's insurance policy. ReliaStar moved for summary judgment, arguing that Emas's interest in any cause of action against ReliaStar passed immediately to McCleary upon her death. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of ReliaStar. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the estate was functionally closed, and McCleary could not bring a suit on behalf of a closed estate; and (2) there was not an issue of fact as to whether McCleary sold the estate's interest in his bankruptcy proceedings, as McCleary had the authority to sell the estate's interest in its claims against ReliaStar.