Hattiesburg, MS asked in Estate Planning for Mississippi

Q: Is it legal to withhold the death certificate from the beneficiary of a life insurance?

I have a family member who recently died and left a small $10k life insurance policy to a non-family member, who is not biologically related to the deceased. My family has received the death certificate, and the estate is currently in probate. My other family members are refusing to give the beneficiary of the life insurance (a non-family member) a death certificate so that she can receive the money that is rightfully hers. Is this legal? Their reasoning for withholding the death certificate temporarily is that the money in the life insurance policy can be used to pay any outstanding debts in the estate. I don't think this is legal either, given that the life insurance policy has a living beneficiary. I understand the beneficiary can request her own death certificate; however, the application for a death certificate in my state, Mississippi, states that,

"A certified copy of a death certificate can be issued only to a person with legitimate and tangible interest as defined by ..."

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1 Lawyer Answer
Randall R. Saxton
Randall R. Saxton
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Madison, MS
  • Licensed in Mississippi

A: In my opinion, if she is indeed listed as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy, she has a tangible interest, and should apply for her own certified death certificate, as the insurance company will issue the benefit directly to her, and life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary pass outside of probate.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

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