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 As a general rule, California requires a change to a beneficiary designation to be made in accordance with the terms of the policy. 'If it is not, no change is accomplished, unless whatever occurred in that respect comes within one of more of the three exceptions to the rule.' Cook v. Cook, 17 Cal. 2d 639, 111 P.2d 322, 328 (Cal. 1941). The three exceptions are (1) when the insurer waives strict compliance with its own rules regarding the change; (2) when it is beyond the insured's power to comply literally with the insurer's requirement; or (3) when the insured has done all that he could to effect the change but dies before the change is actually made. Id.

The Supreme Court of California interpreted this third exception, stating: We think that where the insurer is not contesting the change the rule is not to [be] applied rigorously and where the insured makes every reasonable effort under the circumstances, complying as far as he is able with the rules, and there is a clear manifestation of intent to make the change, which the insured has put into execution as best he can, equity should ...

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