If I am paid the life insurance proceeds after my mother died 2 years ago, is it part of the brokerage account on her estate?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If I am paid the life insurance proceeds after my mother died 2 years ago, is it part of the brokerage account on her estate?

We got a life insurance check about 1 1/2 years ago for $43,000. The estate just settled and we

are being told that the life insurance proceeds are being held in a brokerage account.

Asked on May 17, 2018 under Estate Planning, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Were you the named beneficiary? If so, the money should have gone directly to you: insurance policies are contracts and, like any contract, must be enforced according to their plain terms--including whom the contract (policy) says is paid. If you were the beneficiary but the money is not being paid to or released to you, you could file a legal action (sue) for it: you would sue (name as defendants) the estate, the personal representative/executor, the insurer, and the entity (e.g. bank or broker) holding the account; you have to name everyone who might have an interest in the outcome, the power to get you the money, and/or be responsible for the money not getting to you, to make sure you involve the party(ies) with the power to correct the situation.
If some other still-living person other than you was the beneficiary, then he/she could sue for the money. If the only named beneficiary(ies) died before your mother, or the policy named the estate as beneficiary or there was no named beneficiary, then the money would go to and become part of the estate, and would be distributed together with the other estate assets, to whomever inherits under the will or by "intestate succession" (rules for who gets what when there is no will).

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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