Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Jun 9, 2010

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Insurance Question from Cannon AFB, NM

Asked on 06/09/2010

what happens when a person is convicted of murder and is the beneficiary of the life insurance policy my mother was murdered last year in Montana by my step dad and was the beneficiary of her life insurance policy. he is pleading guilty soon. does that policy go to the next of kin or is it lost to that state

Answer given on July 07, 2010

In most states, if not all, the beneficiary is automatically excluded from the policy if they murder the insured.  There is a difference between "intestate" and not having a qualified beneficiary named on a life insurance policy.

Check your policy.  If there is a "primary" and "secondary" or "contingent" beneficiary designation, and your step father was "primary", it would then go to the secondary/contingent beneficiary, unless there is some other circumstance that prevents that also ( outstanding debts, etc.  ). Even though New Mexico is a "community property" state, the step father is not allowed to benefit from the policy because of his action resulting in "wrongful death".

If there is no beneficiary named, then usually, the estate of the deceased becomes the beneficiary by default.  If that is the case, it will end up going through the probate process. 

The probate process can take a long time to get through… often six months or more, so be prepared if this is the case. 

The good news is, if there is no will, and your mother DID pass away "intestate", then yes, the next of kin would receive ownership of the estate.  The estate would only go to the state if the deceased passed away intestate, and there were no surviving relatives.

 

Good luck.  Hope this helps.

 

 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: These answers are for general information purposes only and are provided by the person answering and FreeAdvice.com AS IS. It has not necessarily been reviewed by the management staff of FreeAdvice.com nor is it binding any insurance agent, broker, or other insurance professional or any attorney or insurance company. Insurance laws, regulations and practices vary from state to state and insurance policies and practices differ from company to company, by type of policy, by state and locality and by type of insurance. Tiny variations in the facts, policy language or a detail not set forth in a question often can change the outcome or a professional's conclusion. Although FreeAdvice.com has confirmed that the answer(s) was/were provided for the account of an experienced insurance professional, that professional may not be licensed in the state referred to in the question, and may not be experienced or up to date in the subject area. Unlike the answers provided here, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you consult a licensed insurance professional in your area or retain a licensed attorney listed on AttorneyPages.com to represent you.