Atlanta, GA asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate for Tennessee

Q: If my father's life insurance is paid to my mother's estate can it be taken by creditors my parents owed money to?

My father had a life insurance policy with prudential that named my mother as primary beneficiary and me and my brother as contingent beneficiaries. My parents passed from covid within 22 hours of each other. My father passed 1st and my mother 2nd surviving him by 22 hours on a ventilator. After filing the death claim with prudential they're 1st letter to us stated benefits would be paid to me and my brother as contingent beneficiaries. 2 weeks later they sent another letter saying they made an error and that it will be paid to my mother's estate instead since she survived my father by 22 hours. Since neither of my parents had a will by paying it to her estate would the laws of TN follow intestate succession which states mom must survive by 120 hrs? We feel the law deems my mother to have pre deceased my father under tn 31-3-120? If not and is paid to moms estate are the proceeds of the life policy protected by tn 56-7-201? Please advise. Thank you for your time!

2 Lawyer Answers
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: You are correct on both accounts. If your mom did not survive your dad by at least 120 hours, then she is deemed to have predeceased him. That would leave his children as the sole heirs of his estate (having died without a will). The insurance proceeds should be paid to you and your other siblings (or their heirs) in equal shares.

And, yes, the insurance proceeds are protected from your father's creditors, given that he had no will that said otherwise.

1 user found this answer helpful

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: I am correcting my answer previously provided. Survivorship would not be governed by the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act because the policy was not payable to your father's estate; rather, it would be governed by the provisions of the life insurance policy itself. A review of the terms of the policy and beneficiary designation would be required to provide an accurate answer.

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