What should I do if I receive a check as a beneficiary of a life insurance annuity but I don’t recognize the deceased’s name?

UPDATED: Dec 16, 2011

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What should I do if I receive a check as a beneficiary of a life insurance annuity but I don’t recognize the deceased’s name?

A friend of mine was notified by a life insurance company that she was a beneficiary of an annuity. She sent in the requested documentation and received a check. My friend did not recognize the name of the deceased person. She called the insurance company, but they were not able to give her information about the person. She asked one agent if there was a will, and he said yes, the Will specified the deceased daughter. But she asked another agent, and he said the company doesn’t have access to the will. What should my friend do? How can she determine if the money is legally hers?

Asked on December 16, 2011 under Estate Planning, Kentucky


Steven Fromm / Steven J Fromm & Associates, P.C.

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

She asked the wrong question.  A will does not control who gets life insurance proceeds.  The beneficiary designation is controlling.  Apparently she was the named beneficiary of the policy.  She should call back the insurance company to request a Form 712.  This will give her more information.  To be safe she may want to just park this money in a bank account for a while so that it is available if it turns out to be a mistaken payment to her.

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