Houston, TX asked in Probate for Texas

Q: Life Insurance where beneficiary is deceased

My father in law had a life insurance policy through his job. He had his wife listed as the beneficiary. She passed away last year and he passed away this year. He never changed the beneficiary. The paperwork we received ask for death certificates for both as well as heir information. The life insurance company contacted my husband and spoke to a step sister to verify that he is the only legal child She confirmed the information and a check was issued to him. The executor of my father in laws will is not harassing us for the life insurance claiming it’s part of the estate. Is this true? Is that policy part of the estate?

Related Topics:
2 Lawyer Answers
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: The answer it, it depends. Usually life insurance is NOT part of an insured decedent's estate. However, it can end up being part of an estate if there are no living death beneficiaries when the decedent died. If the life insurance policy listed your father-in-law's wife as his primary beneficiary and his child as his secondary beneficiary, then the life insurance proceeds were properly paid to his child and are not not part of his estate. It kind of sounds like that is what happened.

However, if the life insurance policy only listed the wife as beneficiary and no secondary beneficiaries, then the life insurance policy "might" be part of his estate. I put "might" in quotes because the only way to answer the question with certainty is to review the policy and the latest beneficiary designations on file.

That said, life insurance companies rarely make mistakes when it comes to paying out death benefits because they don't want to be sued for doing it wrong. When they are not certain, THEY are the ones usually asking for a court order. Therefore, most likely the life insurance proceeds belong to your wife and are not part of your father in law's estate.

Teri A. Walter and Isaac Shutt agree with this answer

Isaac Shutt
Isaac Shutt
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Richardson, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: I agree with the previous answer. I would recommend that you consult with a local probate attorney.

The life insurance companies typically don't pay out to the wrong person. They're pretty cautious. So, if they paid it to you, you were probably legally entitled to it. However, to be sure, you'd have to review the insurance contract. The policy itself will assure us that the life insurance either does or does not pay to the Estate.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.