How do we get the life insurance for the estate if the benefactor is predeceased and no contingent beneficiary was named?

UPDATED: Aug 31, 2011

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How do we get the life insurance for the estate if the benefactor is predeceased and no contingent beneficiary was named?

My step-grandfather requested a form to change the benefactor from my grandmother to the estate 2 weeks before he died. As it turned out, the letter arrived the day he died. Now the insurance company wants to give the money to his daughter, who is mentally ill, and an adopted son he long along disowned. The Will specifies that the insurance is considered part of the estate and should be considered when dividing the assets. The daughter is eligible for 1/8th of the estate and the son is not eligible for anything. We are the “step” family, but are in the estate and executor of the Will.

Asked on August 31, 2011 South Carolina


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Although the owner of the policy - your grandfather - did not name a contingent beneficiary, the policy itself should indeed provide for a "default" beneficiary - for lack of a better word here.  Generally speaking, most policies provide that if there is no contingent beneficiary then the estate is to receive the proceeds of the policy.  It is unclear to me here why they would give it to the children unless that is what the policy states.  So the bottom line here is to request a copy of the policy he signed and to have someone read it for the information.  Good luck.

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