My father died almost 2 months ago, my stepmother is a the benifecary on the life ins.She has already collected an lying to the children,anythinwecan

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My father died almost 2 months ago, my stepmother is a the benifecary on the life ins.She has already collected an lying to the children,anythinwecan

There is 2 older children from my fathers first marriage, an the actin like we dont belong.I am the oldest and the stepmother has already collected sopme money and will not disclose this to us. Are we intitled to some of this money???

Asked on June 13, 2009 under Insurance Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your stepmother was the sole beneficiary under a life insurance policy she, and she alone, was entitled to all of the proceeds paid out under that policy.  Unless you can prove fraud, duress, mental incompetency, or the like when your father named her beneficiary, I'm afraid that you are out of luck.

To the extent that your father had any other assets, see if he left a will.  You can check with the probate court in the county where he resided at the time of his death.  They can tell you whether or not a will was filed.  Even if he didn't have a will (he died "intestate"), to the extent that he had assets other than the life insurance policy, they may still have to be probated.  Georgia’s intestacy law gives a deceased's  property to their closest relatives, beginning with the spouse and children.

Note: Any property held in joint tenancy or any other asset that listed a specific beneficiary would not go through probate.  So unless you were named as a joint tenant or beneficiary (as with the life insurance policy) you would not be entitled to any share of those specific assets.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The beneficiary(ies) on a life insurance policy are entitled to the death benefit.  The beneficiary can give his/her share to whomever he/she wants.  The death benefit passes "outside the estate" meaning it is not included in your Father's estate if there was a proper designation of beneficiary on file.  If there are questions as to the validity of the beneficiary designation - such as the fact that the beneficiary gave up the rights to the death benefit in a divorce and the form was not changed to reflect it, or that the beneficiary used some type of undue influence to get themselves named - then you can contest the death benefit designation.  You indicated that she has already collected.  You may need to see a lawyer to sort through this all if you feel and have proof that the payment was incorrect.


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