If no beneficiary is listed on a life insurance policy, who get the proceeds?

My child father just passed away and the sister/brother is trying to sue for the insurance policy to pay for the funeral.

Asked on March 9, 2011 under Estate Planning, Alaska


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If no beneficiary is listed, the proceeds will be payable to the estate of the deceased.  At that point if there is a Will, they will pass via the "residuary clause" (the one that reads , "All the rest, residue, and remainder..."). If there is no Will then state intestacy law will control.  In such a case, an estate is distributed to the surviving spouse, if any, and the children.  Assuming that your child is the only child of the deceased, they would be entitled to all of the proceeds.

Since the brother and sister were under no legal obligation to pay for the funeral, it would be considered to be a gift.  That is unless, you for some reason asked for them to pay for the funeral and agreed to pay them back.  Even it that is the case, they would have to try and sue you for reimbursement; they would not be entitled to any of the insurance proceeds.

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