Can the terms of a final disposition control the payout of a life insurance policy?

UPDATED: Dec 4, 2011

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Can the terms of a final disposition control the payout of a life insurance policy?

My sister was the sole beneficiary for my deceased mother’s life insurance policy. My sister verbally stated to the family after the funeral that she would pay for the funeral costs from the policy proceeds. My mother had indicated on the final disposition form that she wanted the funeral costs to be paid from the policy. When it came time for the funeral bill to be paid, my sister refused. I know that legally she is not required to pay as it is not “estate” money. Morally she should pay but that is beside the point. Does the final disposition wishes have any weight in forcing her to pay for the funeral?

Asked on December 4, 2011 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately for you and other members of your family other than your sister who received the life insurance proceeds of your mother's policy, the wishes of your mother as to payment of her funeral expenses from the life insurance policy have no weight legally as to force your sister to pay the funeral expenses from the life insurance policy that she received.

The only caveat would be if there was a provision in the Will or trust of your mother or some writing qualifying as an amendment to the Will or trust stating that disposition wishes that you have written about. Morally your sister should abide by your mother's wishes for payment of funeral expenses.

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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