Can Proceeds of Insurance Policy be Seized to Pay Debts of an Estate?

After you die, your estate is responsible for your debts. Creditors can make claims against your probate estate for what you owe.

Assets such as life insurance proceeds, IRAs and other qualified plans are non-probate assets. They pass to the person you designated as the beneficiary outside of a probate proceeding. Because they pass outside of probate, they are generally not subject to the claims of creditors.

Creditors cannot force the beneficiary to use the proceeds of the policy to pay the estate’s debts. The only way life insurance proceeds can be reached by creditors is if you name your estate as the beneficiary or if you do not name a beneficiary and the default beneficiary is your estate.

That is why it is important to periodically check your beneficiary designations to make sure the beneficiaries listed are those to whom you wish those assets to pass.

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