A question I get all the time is “who gets the life insurance in my Florida probate case?”
The answer is not always so clear.
For example, if you are not named as the primary beneficiary on a life insurance policy, the insurance company won’t even talk to you in most cases. It will not matter if you were the power of attorney, or if you are named as the personal representative in a valid will.
Normally, the Florida life insurance policy is considered a non-probate asset that passes directly to the named beneficiary outside of the Florida probate courts. If so, the policy benefits would not be subject to creditor claims, and the benefits would get paid entirely to the named beneficiary immediately upon filing a claim with the insurance company.
If no surviving beneficiary is named in the policy, the proceeds will normally default back into the estate and pass through the Florida probate judicial process before the heirs may be entitled to receive the life insurance money. This means that the funds would be subject to creditor claims and may be tied up for several months before an heir ever sees a penny.
In some cases, heirs may challenge a beneficiaries right to collect the insurance proceeds under Florida law, or by some other contractual obligation.
For example, there is a Slayer Statute in Florida that applies to life insurance policies and excludes a person from receiving benefits when they have illegally and intentionally killed the insured person. When appropriate, this law may be used to disqualify a named beneficiary from receiving any benefit.
In other cases, there may be a contractual obligation giving a person the right to the insurance benefits. For example, a person may have promised to provide life insurance proceeds to another person in a divorce settlement or separation agreement. This is usually enforceable.
If you are experiencing difficulties collecting life insurance policy benefits, and need to talk with an Orlando life insurance collection lawyer, Tampa life insurance collection lawyer, Miami life insurance collection lawyer, or Palm Beach life insurance collection lawyer, please don’t hesitate to contact my office for a free consultation to discuss your case.