Who should be paid by a life insurance company if no beneficiary was listed on the policy?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Who should be paid by a life insurance company if no beneficiary was listed on the policy?

I applied for life insurance on my mother, who recently died. I am the owner of the policy and I made all the payments. Unfortunately, I did not name anyone as beneficiary on the policy. The company wants to pay her estate, not me. The payment isn’t a whole lot more than I’ve paid over the years but I don’t want to share it with my siblings, who could have bought insurance just like I did. Is there any way to make the company pay me rather than the estate?

Asked on September 30, 2016 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Life insurance proceeds are only paid out to the named beneficiary. If no beneficiary is so listed, then the proceeds become a part of the deceased estate. This means that the terms of the deceased's Will controls the distibution of this money. If the deceased died without a Wiil (i.e. "intestate"), then the intestacy laws of the state in which the deceased was domiciled will control. Typically, in such a case, estate assets are distributed to the surviving spouse, if any, and the children of the deceased. Accordingly, since you unfortuntely did not name yourself as beneficiary of the policy, your siblings are entitled to a share of the insurance proceeds.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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