Isachild entitled to any life insurance proceeds paid out attheir father’s death?

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Isachild entitled to any life insurance proceeds paid out attheir father’s death?

My son’s father just passed away. His father never paid any child support for our son his whole life. My son’s grandmother had several life insurance policies on her son. Is my son entitled to any of that money or is that just for the deceased son’s mother?

Asked on January 23, 2011 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately the only one entitled to life insurance proceeds is the named beneficiary on the policy. The same holds true to any funds in an IRA, pension, 401(k), or other retirement plans which also pass directly beneficiaries.  Additionally, heirs have no rights to any other asset transferred outside of probate.  For example, if your son's father had a small estate, property may have been transferred by affidavit. 

Additionally, some assets may have been held as "joint tenants with right of survivorship", in which case the other joint tenant would have received your son's father's share of property operation of law.  

Finally, if your son's father had a Will, then your son may be entitled to something.  However, a parent can legally disinherit a child - children have not automatic right to inherit under a Will.  On the other hand, if your son; father died without a Will, then he is said to have died "intestate".  Accordingly, the laws of the state where he died would control.  Typically in such a case, the estate is divided between a surviving spouse, if any, and all of the deceased's children. 

Note:  There may be the potential to sue your son's father's estate for back-child support.  You should speak to a family or probate law attorney as making such a claim under specific state law.


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