09/30/2008 AT 4:20 PM ET
A life insurance company is balking at making a $10 million payout to Heath Ledger’s nearly 3-year-old daughter Matilda, lawyers for the child claim.
ReliaStar Life Insurance Co. first wants to investigate whether Ledger died by suicide, which would allow the insurer not to pay, says attorney John LaViolette, representing Matilda s estate, who filed a lawsuit in July.
According to the coroner, the actor died at age 28 from an accidental overdose.
“There’s no evidence out there we know of to remotely suggest the death was a suicide,” says lawyer William Shernoff, who is working with LaViolette on the case. “We think it’s more of stalling tactic than anything else.”
Ledger, who had taken out the policy in June 2007, willed his estate to his parents and sisters, but family members decided that Matilda – Ledger’s daughter with Michelle Williams – would get all the money.
ReliaStar spokesman Dana Ripley says, “We have not yet rendered a decision on this claim.” Ripley declined further comment.
“Given the very private and personal nature of the life insurance business and our decision to protect the privacy of policyholder, it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss any specific detail on this process or the policy,” says Ripley.