If my husband is ill and passes away, do I as his wife have any legal standing regarding his personal possessions or life insurance policy?

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If my husband is ill and passes away, do I as his wife have any legal standing regarding his personal possessions or life insurance policy?

My husband wrote out his Will and listed his sister as power of attorney and mother as hisbeneficiary to his life insurance policy.

Asked on February 22, 2018 under Family Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If there is a will, his belongings go away to whoever the will designates they go to (e.g. his sister, if he is leaving them to her), with a significant limitation, however: in your state, a spouse cannot completely disinherit his/her spouse, so regardless of what the will says, you will get at least 1/3 of his non-insurance assets.
Life insurance is different, however: it is governed by a contract (the insurance policy is a contract) and goes to whomever is designated as beneficiary. It does not go through or become part of your husband's estate, and so the rule against not disinheriting your spouse (see above) does not apply. If his mother is his life insurance beneficiary, she gets the policy's proceeds.


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