If my husband passed away without a Will but left life insurance proceeds to me, does probabte have to happen?

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If my husband passed away without a Will but left life insurance proceeds to me, does probabte have to happen?

My husband passed away 4 months ago. He had no Will. He left me a small life insurance policy in my name only to help me live on. I am 72. I got a call yesterday about someone mentioning probate of my late husband’s estate. All his bills were in his name, and signed by him. Do I have to pay these bills from what he left me? Can my spouse’s debts, which are in his name only, be legally taken from the insurance proceeds? I am 72 and will be destitute if I have to. Can I not withdraw this money and give it to my daughter so it would be hers?

Asked on September 29, 2016 under Estate Planning, Tennessee

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Certain assets such as 401k's, IRA's, TOD accounts, life insurance proceeds and the like, pass outside of a deceased's estate; in other words they do not not a part of it. This means that such proceeds pass directly to the named beneficiary. It further means that they are not subject to creditor claims on the deceased's estate. Bottom line, you can keep this money. That having been said, to the extent that you and your husband owned joint assests, then they might be subject to such claims.


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