Who should be paid by a life insurance company if no beneficiary was listed on the policy?

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Who should be paid by a life insurance company if no beneficiary was listed on the policy?

I applied for life insurance on my mother, who recently died. I am the owner of the policy and I made all the payments. Unfortunately, I did not name anyone as beneficiary on the policy. The company wants to pay her estate, not me. The payment isn’t a whole lot more than I’ve paid over the years but I don’t want to share it with my siblings, who could have bought insurance just like I did. Is there any way to make the company pay me rather than the estate?

Asked on September 30, 2016 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Life insurance proceeds are only paid out to the named beneficiary. If no beneficiary is so listed, then the proceeds become a part of the deceased estate. This means that the terms of the deceased's Will controls the distibution of this money. If the deceased died without a Wiil (i.e. "intestate"), then the intestacy laws of the state in which the deceased was domiciled will control. Typically, in such a case, estate assets are distributed to the surviving spouse, if any, and the children of the deceased. Accordingly, since you unfortuntely did not name yourself as beneficiary of the policy, your siblings are entitled to a share of the insurance proceeds.


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