How do I find out the benficiary for my dad who has recently passed away? 17 Answers as of June 19, 2013

My dad recently passed away and the only life insurance he had is from his retirement. I am the only daughter who was power of attorney while he was living, how can I find out who the beneficiary is or was? I spoke with the retirement of course they would not tell me anything because of confidentiality. The only thing they did tell me was they sent the paper work out to the beneficiary recently, and I haven't received anything. I am worried that it falls into the wrong hands and I have no way to pay for his funeral. What can I do?

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Geoff Germane, Attorney at Law | Geoff Germane
Unfortunately, there is likely not much you can do to keep the life insurance proceeds from "falling into the wrong hands." An owner of a life insurance policy has the right to designate the death beneficiary, and the beneficiary does not have to be a family member. A theory that the recipient holds the proceeds in "constructive trust" is likely your only chance, and I cannot tell you with so little information if this theory would even apply here. Because the life insurance policy is a contract, only three parties have a legal right to know the terms of it-the insured (your father), the insurance company, and the beneficiary. No one else has what is called "privity" of contract, including the right to see the contract and its terms. I'm sorry for your loss and for the less-than-positive information.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 5/10/2012
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
If you are not the named beneficiary then you will not have access to the proceeds. You may wish to inquire if his Estate is the beneficiary. Maybe they will answer that questions. If not then you may need to go to Court to get an order appointing you to serve as an administrator to determine assets and that would allow you to get that information.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 3/12/2012
Attorney at Law | Maurice Kemp
Did your father have any other assets? If so, you could file a petition for probate and eventually obtain the information you want by way of a court order.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/19/2013
Law Office of Robert J. Slotkin | Robert J. Slotkin
The insurance company doesn't have to tell you unless you are a beneficiary. Did your dad leave an estate? If you are his executor, you can get access to his personnel file at work which probably has a copy of his benefit information. It may also be among his personal papers. Did you look?
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 3/12/2012
Law Offices of Douglas J. Lindsay
Law Offices of Douglas J. Lindsay | Douglas J. Lindsay
As you probably are aware ... any Power of Attorney authority you may have possessed to assist your father, TERMINATES upon his passing. Further, just because you are the "only daughter" with a prior Power of Attorney does not necessarily mean that you are a designated beneficiary on a specific life insurance policy of your father. Any number of entities, or people, or an individual entity or person, could be or is, a designated beneficiary, to your exclusion. A life insurance policy is an asset that is not subject to probate proceedings. If you firmly believe you have a vested interest in any life insurance policy that your late father possessed or owned, and you have not been satisfied with the resolution of this policy ... you can retain an attorney and bring the appropriate action against the insurance company in a Circuit Court with the appropriate jurisdiction.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/12/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    If your dad designated a beneficiary of his life insurance, the proceeds belong to that designated beneficiary, not to the estate. The insurance company's obligation is to send paperwork to the named beneficiary. Sorry, if the proceeds go to the named beneficiary, they have not fallen into the "wrong hands".
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Horn & Johnsen SC
    Horn & Johnsen SC | Dera L. Johnsen-Tracy
    Generally, this information can only be obtained by the named beneficiary of the policy or by the personal representative of your father's estate. Your father's power of attorney became ineffective upon his death. If there is no probate proceeding, then there will be no personal representative. The beneficiary of a life insurance policy is not responsible for paying funeral expenses from the proceeds of the life insurance policy because the proceeds are not part of your father's probate estate. Although you are not personally liable for your father's funeral expenses (unless you signed a personal guarantee), your father's estate is responsible for paying these expenses.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    You could open a probate for your father and you then would have the right to request that information.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    The answer to your question depends on the all of the facts of your specific situation. No attorney can give you specific advice to your situation without knowing the entire situation. I can comment generally based on the information that you provided in your question. However, you should understand that the information contained in your question does not contain essential information needed to provide you with legal advice. This message is not intended to be legal advice for you and you should not consider that we have formed an attorney/client relationship. I am assuming that you are in Oregon and that Oregon law applies. Good question. A key part of the answer is whether your father left a Will. If he did, are you named as the personal representative? If yes, you may be able to use that authority to get the information from the insurance company. If not, you may have to file a probate case in court to have yourself officially appointed. Another thought is you could look through his records and see if you can find his copy of the insurance policy. It will show who the beneficiary is.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston | Edwin Fee
    If an estate has been opened for your father, then the personal representative of the estate could ask the insurance company to disclose the beneficiary and the amount of the insurance. The personal representative could say that they need this information for estate tax purposes. If no estate has been opened, then you could open a statutory small estate in order to get yourself appointed as personal representative. Then you would have the authority to ask the insurance company for information. Keep in mind, though, that if someone else is named as the beneficiary of the policy, then the insurance might not be available to pay the funeral expenses in any event.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Francine R. Martin P.A.
    Francine R. Martin P.A. | Francine R. Martin
    It sounds like there are a few different issues here. First, the insurance company does not have to contact or give any information to anyone other than the listed beneficiary, unless a court action is instituted and they're are served with a subpoena. If you are listed as the beneficiary they will send the paperwork directly to you and no one else will have access to the insurance proceeds. Did the insurance representative ask for your address when you called? Are you concerned that someone may have wrongfully changed his beneficiary or unduly influence your father to do so? Another issue is that there may be no living beneficiary listed on the insurance policy, which would result in the proceeds being payable to his estate, which would require probate. I would suggest that you contact a Florida probate attorney to help you with these issues and advise you on how to proceed.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    The only way for you to get the authority to ask the question is for you to become the administrator of the estate. You should consult a probate attorney to review your options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    To receive any information in a deceased person's estate you must be appointed as the Executrix or the Administrator of his estate. His Last Will & Testament should be probated and the Executor/Executrix appointed. Beneficiaries designations pass outside Probate. Get appointed the Executrix of the estate and people will give you the requested information.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Pingelton Law Firm | Dan Pingelton
    Unless a probate estate is opened, you have no authority to require them to disclose that information. If you suspect someone else my be a beneficiary, talk to that person and see if they'll give you information.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    If there is nothing that requires probate (the insurance company would talk to a court-appointed personal representative) then your only option may be to contact likely beneficiaries (mother?) and see if they received the app from the insurance.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C.
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    Open his estate and send a subpoena to the Life Insurance Company for the information.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 3/9/2012
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