No Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation

If an insured obtains a life insurance policy, he has the responsibility to designate an eligible beneficiary to receive the proceeds of the policy upon his death. Situations arise, however, where the insured either fails to make any designation of beneficiary or revokes his designation and fails to make a new one.

Beneficiaries fixed by statute

If an insured fails to name a beneficiary or to replace a revoked beneficiary, the proceeds of the policy are usually payable to the persons fixed by statute as eligible beneficiaries. The order of payment of the benefits also generally follows the order set forth in the statute.

Joint designations

If a statute sets forth a joint designation of beneficiaries, such as “to the widow and children,” and then designates others who will take in the absence of a widow or children, the widow usually takes the entire benefit if there are no children.

Preference for widow/widower

When no beneficiary designation has been made, an insured’s widow or widower is preferred over other potential beneficiaries, such as the insured’s estate. A widow or widower will also usually take where there has been no new designation of a beneficiary upon the death of the former beneficiary. However, if the widow or widower is ineligible to take, the insured’s children will be preferred to a person claiming the proceeds as an oral gift.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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