Life insurance is a distinctive financial product that allows you to name beneficiaries directly without having to use probate court. However, life insurance companies do not mandate that beneficiaries be named. Usually, there is no need to go through probate, since this incurs fees that could otherwise be avoided. But if your deceased loved one failed to name a beneficiary in the policy, the policy must be probated. You should understand this process and what will ultimately happen to the proceeds of the insurance policy.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
File the death claim. The executor of the individual's will must file the death claim on behalf of the estate. A copy of the death certificate, along with the claim form, must be submitted to the insurer. Then the insurance company processes the claim request. The insurance company makes a check payable to the probate court.
Deduct fees and expenses, and record the resulting amount. The probate court deducts fees for processing along with lawyers' fees. These fees vary by state. The amount of money that is left over will be distributed to individuals named in the deceased person's last will and testament.
Distribute the funds. Whatever is left over from probate court must be distributed according to the deceased's will. If there is no will, state law determines how the proceeds will be distributed.
Tips and warnings
- If you want to avoid probate on your life insurance policy, name beneficiaries. This will prevent the probate court from deducting fees from the death benefit. This is an unnecessary process, since life insurance is designed to be passed directly to the beneficiary instead of being distributed according to a will.
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