In the months before he killed himself and his two children in a fiery explosion, Josh Powell altered the terms of a $2.5 million life insurance policy on himself, his sons, and his missing wife, Susan Cox Powell.
According to court documents filed by the New York Life Insurance Company in U.S. District Court, two of Powell's siblings have tried to make claims on the life insurance in the wake of their brother's murder-suicide.
Powell, who was called a "person of interest" in his wife's 2009 disappearance, killed himself and sons Braden, 7, and Charlie, 5, during a supervised-custody visit in February.
The insurance company is petitioning the court to decide who should receive the $2.5 million payout, since Powell is considered a "slayer" of his children and "person of interest" in his wife's disappearance, terms that could disqualify him and his family as beneficiaries, they argue.
According to the lawsuit, Josh Powell changed the terms of his family's life insurance to designate his brother, Michael Powell, as the main beneficiary, with his sister and father to receive smaller percentages of the payout.
The insurance was first taken out during the summer of 2007, when Josh and Susan Powell took out $1 million policies each on themselves, and $250,000 riders on each of their children. At the time, they designated one another as the beneficiaries. The couple later set up a family trust, designating each of their fathers as beneficiaries of the trust, and naming the trust the beneficiary of the life insurance.
Then, two years later, in December 2009, Susan disappeared. Police have never located her body and have made no arrests in connection with her disappearance, though Josh Powell was the only named person of interest in the case.
In October, 2011, just weeks after his father was arrested on charges of child porn and voyeurism, Josh Powell changed the beneficiary of the life insurance. No longer would the family trust receive the life insurance payouts; instead, Josh Powell's siblings would become the beneficiaries, according to the court documents.
The changes resulted in Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, losing his claim on the life insurance.
Two months later, Powell once again changed the beneficiary information, designating his brother, Michael Powell, as the beneficiary who would receive 93 percent of the pay out, while his sister Alina would receive 4 percent, and a third sibling would receive three percent. He designated his father Stephen as a secondary beneficiary.
Powell made the final beneficiary change on Dec. 3, less than two months before he killed himself and his children on Feb. 5, 2012.
Nine days later, both Michael and Alina Powell contacted New York Life Insurance Co. to make a claim on the policies.
The insurance company is asking the U.S. district court to decide whether the Powells have a rightful claim to the money, despite Josh Powell's status as a "slayer" of the two boys and a "person of interest" in Susan's disappearance, or whether Susan's parents or other interested parties have a claim on the payout.
The filing also draws Josh Powell's competency into question, asking the court to determine whether the murder-suicide affects the beneficiary changes.