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How Does Life Insurance Relate to a Wrongful Death Case?


Bearers with coffin

If your loved one had life insurance, that policy should pay separately from any wrongful death claim. People usually name specific beneficiaries in their life insurance policies. If the life insurance policy does name specific beneficiaries, then the life insurance company should pay those claims. Some people also have Accidental Death clauses added to their life insurance policies, which mean a larger payout in the case of a traffic accident, falls, exposure, etc. The beneficiaries will not usually need a lawyer. Simply presenting a death certificate and then filling in forms that the insurance company will provide is usually sufficient. But there are some situations that could complicate this process.


Divorce sometimes complicates things. If an ex-spouse is named as the beneficiary in a life insurance policy, the divorce decree and property settlement paperwork should be examined. Divorce alone will not take away the ex-spouse’s right to life insurance proceeds if the ex-spouse is still named in the policy. But if the divorce paperwork specifically divests the ex-spouse of the right to life insurance proceeds, that paperwork may affect the ex-spouse’s rights.

Beneficiaries Deceased/Not Found:

If no named beneficiary is alive, or none can be found – or if he/she has been divested through a divorce decree or other legalities – the proceeds may go to the estate. And sometimes a life insurance policy will directly name the estate as the beneficiary. In either of these cases, the life insurance proceeds will belong to the estate, and will have to be divided up among any beneficiaries to the estate. This would be separate and apart from any wrongful death settlement and proceeds.

Insurance Refuses to Pay:

On the very rare occasions in which a life insurer refuses to pay, you will need a lawyer. If you win that case, the insurance company will typically have to pay your attorney’s fees. Because of this, you should not hesitate to contact a lawyer in this situation, because you won’t even need to pay the lawyer when you win the case. But this is rare. Life insurance contracts are usually paid quickly and with little hassle.