If my husband passed away without a Will but left life insurance proceeds to me, does probabte have to happen?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my husband passed away without a Will but left life insurance proceeds to me, does probabte have to happen?

My husband passed away 4 months ago. He had no Will. He left me a small life insurance policy in my name only to help me live on. I am 72. I got a call yesterday about someone mentioning probate of my late husband’s estate. All his bills were in his name, and signed by him. Do I have to pay these bills from what he left me? Can my spouse’s debts, which are in his name only, be legally taken from the insurance proceeds? I am 72 and will be destitute if I have to. Can I not withdraw this money and give it to my daughter so it would be hers?

Asked on September 29, 2016 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Certain assets such as 401k's, IRA's, TOD accounts, life insurance proceeds and the like, pass outside of a deceased's estate; in other words they do not not a part of it. This means that such proceeds pass directly to the named beneficiary. It further means that they are not subject to creditor claims on the deceased's estate. Bottom line, you can keep this money. That having been said, to the extent that you and your husband owned joint assests, then they might be subject to such claims.

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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