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Do you have to follow a person’s will regarding life insurance?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2022 | Estate Administration & Probate |

As the estate administrator, you know that it’s your job to pass the assets out to the heirs. The will is your guidebook that tells you how this is supposed to be done. You have to follow the instructions laid out for you by the person who died.

Say that estate plan says you’re supposed to split the life insurance payment among all of that person’s heirs, including you.

Then you look at the life insurance policy itself, and there is only one beneficiary listed. Perhaps you’re the oldest child and it’s just your name listed as the person who is supposed to get the payout. Do you have to follow the will and share that money with other beneficiaries?

The life insurance designation is all that matters

To make things simple, remember that the life insurance beneficiary designation is the only thing that is going to determine where that money goes initially. If the life insurance company was instructed to give the entire payout to you, they’re going to do so. Even if the will says that they should do something else, the life insurance company doesn’t care about the will.

The reason for this is that the money from the policy itself isn’t part of the person’s estate. It’s not governed by the will.

If you still want to share the money with the other beneficiaries, you can certainly do so. You have the full ability to do whatever you want with that money once it arrives. But don’t assume that you are legally obligated to follow this portion of the will, which doesn’t apply.

You can see how very complicated probate can become, so be sure you know exactly what steps to take. Having legal guidance can help considerably.