If my late father took out a policy that had no beneficiary listed, are my siblings and I the rightful beneficiaries or is my stepmother?

UPDATED: Jul 29, 2014

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If my late father took out a policy that had no beneficiary listed, are my siblings and I the rightful beneficiaries or is my stepmother?

It was taken out when my parents were still married. The divorce papers make no mention of this policy nor of what was to be done with any other policies in case of death. They contacted my mother about this policy but informed her that she could not collect as they were divorced (even though it was a mortgage life insurance policy and my mother had continued to pay for it, unknown to her). They did inform her though that us children could collect. When looking at the papers for the collection process, it asks if the deceased has a living spouse. He did get remarried but we do not know where she is or if she is married yet again.

Asked on July 29, 2014 under Insurance Law, Michigan


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Generally speaking, if the named beneficiary in a policy can no longer receive the proceeds for what ever reason, and there is no alternate beneficiary named, then the estate of the decedent will be the default beneficiary.  Is that why they told you you could collect?  I would double check that.  And if the estate is the beneficiary then those proceeds go in to the estate pot and either the Will or intestacy statute will apply.  Now, you have the policy so look at the appropriate language.  The insurance company needs to make sure that it is not going to be in the middle of a dispute about the proceeds and needs to know who the surviving beneficiaries of the estate would be.  A spouse is key.  You absolutely need to figure out if your father and step mother were divorced at the time of his death.  Please get legal help asap.  Good luck.

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