Is a beneficiary under a life insurance policy responsible for debts of the estate?

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Is a beneficiary under a life insurance policy responsible for debts of the estate?

My father passed away and left me a life insurance policy. He had a business that was not doing well in CA and had several small claims court cases pending, additionally he owed some back taxes. Can his creditors come after my life insurance benefits? Can they go after my mother’s?

Asked on April 29, 2011 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not.  A beneficiary is under no obligation to pay the debts of an estate.  In fact, a beneficiary of life insurance proceeds has nothing to do with the estate at all.  The reason is the certain monies pass outside of an estate; this includes life insurance proceeds.  Therefore, a beneficiary is entitled to such proceeds free and clear of any estate debts or similar obligations.


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