Are life insurance proceeds part of deceased’s estate if they are payable to a person?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Are life insurance proceeds part of deceased’s estate if they are payable to a person?

My mother passed away this past January. I was beneficiary of 3 life insurance policies. I paid her funeral expenses out of the proceeds and the estate attorney then told me that the remaining approx. 11,000 life insurance proceeds were part of my mom’s estate and made me deposit the proceeds into the estate checking account. I was under the impression that life insurance policies were paid to the person designated and the proceeds were theirs, not the estate’s.

Asked on September 4, 2016 under Estate Planning, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You are correct, not the attorney: if you were the designated beneficiary, the proceeds from the policy are *not* part of your mother's estate. Only policies made out to the estate or with no designated beneficiary or where the designated beneficiary passed away previously (without some living back-up beneficiary also being designated) become part of the estate.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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