Which has priority – a Will or an insurance company?

UPDATED: Sep 8, 2012

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Which has priority – a Will or an insurance company?

In my mother’s Will, she stated I would get all of her insurance money. However, 2 of her policies have specified beneficiaries.

Asked on September 8, 2012 under Estate Planning, Florida


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The proceeds of life insurance policies pass according to the beneficiary instructions with the insurance company.  These proceeds are paid outside the estate, and the will has nothing to do with it (unless the beneficiary does not exist).

This is often misunderstood.  Placing other people on the title to stocks, investment accounts, bank accounts and other assets makes them a co-owner of those accounts.  They can do as they please with them, and they own them when the original owner passes away - no matter what the will says.  Naming individuals as beneficiaries of insurance, retirement, stocks, investments, bank accounts, etc., means those assets will pass to the beneficiary outside the estate and no matter what the will says.

There are some very good ways set up assets so that life runs smoothly, assets are protected, seniors and others receive help to manage daily needs, and everything passes smoothly and efficiently at death.  I call my practice "life planning" because it considers and includes all of this.  Whether they call it "life planning" or not, estate planning and Elder Law attorneys are very good at creating these plans.   It is well worth consulting such an attorney to avoid the situation described in this question. 

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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