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The Last Jedi and Life Insurance

The Last Jedi and Life Insurance
December 13
04:46 2017
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The Last Jedi is making its way into theaters this week, and the hardcore Star Wars fans at Quotacy have quite a few questions they’d like answered. Who’s the last Jedi: Luke or Rey, or both? Who are Rey’s real parents? What are Finn and Poe going to be doing while Rey is training with Luke? When will everyone’s favorite character, Jar Jar Binks, make his triumphant return?

And, for us, the most important question of all…

< Spoiler Warning for The Force Awakens >

Did Han have a life insurance policy in place when Kylo Ren killed him?

Wait, that’s not the question you want answered? Well, for life insurance nerds like us, this is half the fun of watching movies!

Let’s do a quick thought experiment and assume that Han Solo did have a life insurance policy at the time of his death.

Han’s death involves his entire family. Between the strained relationship with his son, the divorce from Leia, and the murder charge of his son killing him, any galactic life insurance carrier would be tearing their hair out if a claim like this came in. I can’t imagine how an ex-trade federation bookie would be able to untangle it.

Typically, the beneficiaries for a life insurance policy are set when the policy is put in place, but they can be changed later with a little bit of paperwork. Since many people purchase life insurance policies when their children are born, I think it’s likely that Han bought his policy while he was still married to Leia, shortly after the birth of their son, Ben.

Even if he did have a life insurance policy, that still leaves questions that J.J. Abrams didn’t see fit to answer during Episode 7; questions that life insurance nerds like us are salivating over. We assume that they just didn’t make the final cut.

Did Han Solo change his beneficiaries when Ben turned to the dark side?

We know that Ben turning to the dark side is what caused Han and Leia to split up in the first place, so this would have been the first issue facing Han’s policy.

If we assume that Han wanted to remove Ben as a beneficiary of his policy  after he turned to the dark side and murdered the younglings under Luke’s care, he would have either left Leia as the sole beneficiary if their marriage was still doing well, or found another beneficiary if it was already falling apart.

What happened to the policy during Han and Leia’s separation?

Let’s assume that Han and Leia got a divorce. If the terms of the divorce didn’t require Han to keep Leia on his life insurance policy to replace child support payments after they split (Ben was already disowned, so this doesn’t seem likely), I would assume that Han’s divorce lawyer would have advised him to submit the paperwork to remove Leia as a beneficiary.

This leaves quite a few interesting options for Han to consider. My personal theory is that if he changed his policy after the divorce, he would have listed Chewbacca as its primary beneficiary, which would have left everything nice and tidy at the end of The Force Awakens.

This assumes that there is real insurable interest between the two of them. We at the Quotacy office believe that Chewbacca was a co-owner of the Millennium Falcon, if not a major shareholder of their smuggling and material transportation business. If Han and Chewie are still on the hook for the debt owed to the Hutt cartel for the Falcon, Chewie would have an ironclad insurable interest to receive a policy’s payout.

However, he could also have listed his good friend and former brother-in-law, Luke as the beneficiary, since there was ample evidence that he was still alive during the events of The Force Awakens.

Both points 1 and 2 are contingent on one big assumption, though: that Han Solo is a responsible life insurance owner. With his shoot first, ask questions later way of doing things and his general cavalier attitude towards responsibility, my theory is that he would have forgotten to change his beneficiaries when Ben defected to the dark side.

The issue is that because Ben’s new identity as Kylo Ren was a closely guarded secret, Han and Leia’s divorce lawyer may not have realized that allowing Ben to remain a beneficiary to Han’s policy would put money into the first order upon Han’s death. This leads to the third and biggest headache of cashing out Han Solo’s policy.

Will Ben Solo inherit anything?

Ben killed his dad. That’s a bad thing to do.

However, life insurance policies are very particular about what happens when the person being insured is murdered. If the beneficiary of the policy is a suspect in the murder, they won’t receive a payout until they are no longer suspected.

Because Ben killed Han in front of a few very reliable witnesses, the case against him is airtight. He will never see a cent of that money. But what happens if there aren’t any other beneficiaries for the carrier to fall back to?

Typically, a life insurance carrier that can’t find any beneficiaries will deposit the money directly into the deceased’s estate. Then, the estate will be divided up according to their will. If there is no will, the government provides one, which is unfortunately not always to the liking of the heirs. However, even if Ben is listed as an inheritor, it’s still very possible that the New Order won’t be getting Han’s payout.

Ben Solo and the Slayer Doctrine

On earth, even before courts and judicial systems, there was the concept of the Slayer Doctrine. The Slayer Doctrine is (in addition to the name of my new heavy metal appreciation podcast) the concept that a person cannot take advantage of their own wrongdoing. Specifically, slayers cannot receive inheritance from their victims.

This concept is a part of common law, meaning that it has been present in almost every earth culture before law was written, and has since been absorbed into law almost everywhere in some form or another.

If we assume that this type of rule also holds true for a galaxy far far away, it’s reasonable to assume that Ben won’t get a single credit of his father’s estate. Instead, Han’s last will and testament will be carried out as though Ben was already dead before the death of his father.

Ben’s portion of the estate will be split according to the will with each inheritor, probably including Leia, Chewbacca, Luke, and maybe even Rey, if Han had time to leave her something in the short while they knew one another.

 

Again, this is all just a fan theory by someone who is incredibly interested in the way Life Insurance intersects with pop culture. If (and hopefully WHEN) the cast and crew of the new Star Wars trilogy address the issue of life insurance, I imagine that it’ll be just as satisfying as my analysis, and not something half-baked about midichlorians and The Trade Federation or Senator Binks.

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