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Understanding the Basics: How Does Interpleader Work?

Pretty lady researching to find out how does interpleader work

Interpleader is a legal theory that’s useful for situations where two or more people are asserting the same claim to a particular property. For instance, if you own something and multiple claimants are trying to take it from you. It allows someone to step in and resolve the dispute without becoming involved in the competing claims. If you find yourself named as a party to an Interpleader Complaint, you’re probably asking yourself, “How does interpleader work?” This guide will explain what interpleader is, how it works, and when you should use it.

What is Interpleader?

The legal system uses interpleader when two or more people claim the same property. It allows someone to resolve the dispute without taking sides or deciding which party has the better claim to the asset. In interpleader, a third party (called an “interpleader”) will join the dispute and ask for both parties to prove their rights to the asset in court. The court then evaluates each party’s evidence, and in some cases will decide which one should ultimately receive the disputed property.

An Interpleader action is governed by Rule 22 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Each state has a similar rule.

How Does Interpleader Work?

Interpleader allows a third party to bring the dispute to court to decide which party should get the asset. Once both parties have presented their evidence and claims, the court will decide who should receive the contested property. To start the process, an interpleader typically files a “complaint for interpleader” in a civil court. There, both parties have an opportunity to prove their rights to the property. The judge or jury then reviews all of the evidence and decides who is entitled to receive it.

How Does Interpleader Work If You Are a Beneficiary to Life Insurance?

If you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy and two or more people claim rights to the money, interpleader can be used to determine who should get the payout. In this situation, the insurer can file an interpleader action. They will deposit the amount with a court that includes all claims that have been made against the policy. This gives all claimants a chance to make their case in front of a court and receive their entitlement if they win.

How Does Interpleader Work (From the Insurance Company’s Standpoint)?

Any bank, insurance company, or other financial institution can bring an interpleader action when there are competing interests in an asset or funds that it is holding. They will then need to deposit the disputed amount with the court, which will then help establish ownership of the assets. Normally, this process does not entitle the bank, insurance company, or other financial institution to recover its legal costs from the process, as discussed in the State Farm v. Agnes Y. Pavone case from 2021.

How to Respond to an Interpleader For Complaint

If you receive an interpleader complaint, it’s important to respond in a timely and organized fashion. You will need to file an answer to the complaint, which must be done within the timeframe specified in the documents and rules of the court. In your answer, you should (1) explain why you should own or receive the contested property, (2) include any supporting documentation such as contracts, receipts and proof of ownership, and (3) include all relevant information about why you are entitled to receive the contested asset.

How to File an Interpleader Action?

If you are looking to file an interpleader action, it’s important to contact a qualified attorney. You will need to present evidence of your ownership or claim before the court can proceed and hear the case. The court will then require that all parties with competing claims submit a statement of their interest in the property, as well as any supporting documents. After completing this process, the court will make a ruling on who has the rightful claim over the contested asset.

How do You File an Interpleader If You Are a Beneficiary to Life Insurance?

If you are a beneficiary to a life insurance policy, it’s possible for the insurer to file an interpleader action. In this case, only the insurer has the legal authority to file such an action. The complimentary process would be for an individual or corporate beneficiary to receive notice of the interpleader action and therefore become a party to it. This is known as filing a claim in the interpleader. Upon entry of its claim, the claimant will then need to represent itself in court with any documentation necessary—”such as evidence supporting their rights under contract or statute—to defend their portion of the fund’s assets.

Who Can File an Interpleader in Court?

Any individual or organization that has an ownership claim on a property can file an interpleader in court. This often occurs when more than one person or entity believe they have a legitimate claim over the same asset. If both parties are unable to reach an agreement, then filing for an interpleader action may be a wise choice. Additionally, creditors have the right to file an interpleader to avoid becoming entangled in any disputes over the debt that they possibly owe to two or more competing claimants.

You can read more in are related blog post.

Let Us Help You.

Don’t try to figure out what is interpleader on your own. There are deadlines and strict court rules that you need to comply with. Let us be your advocate and make sure the court treats you fairly.

Whether you’re named in an Interpleader Complaint, or you have a dispute to funds and want to file an Interpleader action, we can help. Give us a call at 602-443-4888.


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.