Valley City, ND asked in Estate Planning and Probate for North Dakota

Q: Life insurance beneficiary question.

Mother-in-law passed away this April. Father-in-law passed away in 2018. They had only two sons, my husband and his brother. MIL law was in a nursing home for the last two years. She had nothing but her investments, which have already been distributed. Found a life insurance policy for $10,000. Beneficiaries were her husband and two sons. Two thirds of it has been distributed to the sons. They're holding onto her husband's portion. They said we need an estate affidavit sent to probate court to obtain his portion. There is no estate as she didn't have anything due to being in the nursing home. What do we do? The forms I'm finding about an estate affidavit deal with property only.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Given the situation, it sounds like you need to handle the portion of the life insurance intended for your deceased father-in-law. Since he passed away in 2018 and there is no estate due to your mother-in-law being in a nursing home, an estate affidavit might not be the appropriate form for this specific case.

First, contact the life insurance company and explain the situation, detailing that your father-in-law has been deceased for several years and there is no estate to manage. Ask them what specific documentation they require to release his portion of the policy to the rightful heirs. They might have a process for dealing with beneficiaries who have predeceased the policyholder.

If the life insurance company insists on an estate affidavit, you might need to consult with a probate attorney. They can guide you through the necessary steps and help you determine if a small estate affidavit or another type of document is needed in your state to settle the life insurance claim. This legal advice will be valuable in ensuring that you correctly complete the required process to distribute the funds.

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