Mother is in the final stages of life with 2 policies that have no beneficiary. What to do? -

Mother is in the final stages of life with 2 policies that have no beneficiary. What to do?


My 93 yr old mom has 2 policies that have no beneficiary listed. She is in a state where she can't do anything now. Hospice has her on morphine so she can't eat, get up, move her hands or even open her eyes. She is in a nursing home with Hospice and went down hill within the last 2 weeks. There will be lots of bills to pay. What can I do to have me listed as TOD? I have a POA now and also am financial POA for her. What I want most in the world is to have her back healthy, able to talk and smile, go shopping with me like we've done for years and work in her garden but I'm beginning to see that won't be possible anymore. So sad! Any suggestion would be appreciated. I have one brother that lives in the same town but he hasn't even visited her since my dad died in 2006. I've always been there for her for everything.



If you are agent under her Power of Attorney and it gives you the ability to change beneficiaries you are in luck. Immediately submit her POA to the insurance company and request a change of beneficiary form. Most large companies will accept a fax of the form and have the change done with 48 hours.

If her POA does not permit this then the policy proceeds will be paid to her estate. The next question will be: does she have a living trust (becomes irrevocable at death) and a "pour over" Will that instructs assets not titled in the name of the trust to be "poured into" the trust for administration purposes?

If not, then the proceeds of the policies will be subject to the terms of her Will and probate administration.
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Reply to Ralph Robbins

I would contact an Elder Care attorney immediately....They will advise.
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Reply to DeberaB

May I extend my condolences on the state of your mother. This is a very tough time.

Is Medicare paying for the nursing home? Or are you privately paying?

Hospice is free-a benefit from Medicare, so you shouldn't be billed for that. Definitely report them if you get billed.

Since she hasn't named any beneficiary(s), I would think the estate would go to her next of kin-you and your brother would split her assets.
 I don't know if you would be responsible for her debt but her creditors probably would try to get it from the estate.
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Reply to SueC1957

SK - My experience is that in a NH setting Hospice is a Medicare benefit.
HOWEVER daily room & Board costs at the NH are NOT covered by hospice. That will need to be paid and it’s either private pay or Medicaid. Prepare to be approached by the NH as to how her stay will be paid as she is now outside the initial Medicare paid 20 day post hospitalization discharge to a NH/rehab. My mom was in a NH on Medicaid, fell shattered a hip & then onto Hospice 18 l....o....n...g months. Hospice is a wonderful benefit but Medicaid or family will need to pay the R&B daily charge at a NH.

If it should come to the point that your mom applies for Medicaid, one of the items looked at will be if she has any life insurance policies and if they have a cash value. Whole life policies do and they sadly will need to be cashed in. Term life usually have no value till death and they should get looked at at only what the original face value of the policy is. If they should need to get cashed in (“surrendered”) your dpoa paperwork should be ok for doing that. Life insurance companies are used to dealing with these and have a system to do it. Hopefully they are term so you don’t another thing to deal with right now.

But whether term or whole, there will be a beneficiary. If it’s not a person that’s named specifically within then I’d bet it’s that the beneficiary is her estate. (My dad had his term life this way & it was common for older policies to have it for “estate” so it could be $ definitely there to cover probate & estate management costs.) IF it becomes an asset of an estate - like a check is issued as “estate of Mary Smith Jones”- then you are going to need to establish why it’s within your control and find a way to deposit it. If she has a will and names you as executor then you can do this via a probate court process. Just what is available to you is very dependent on what your state allows (small estates affidavit, muniment, full probate,etc) or if there is no will then whatever you need to do to establish lineal heirship. If she currently has a bank account that you are a signature on & POD to you, try to see if the bank will allow for the account to stay open past her death; it rolls over to your name & SS#.  My mom’s bank actually suggested this and it was seamless, easy and I used it to pay anything probate even using the old checks. I did not have to get a Estate irs # for probate. 

And if she goes onto Medicaid, any assets of her estate can be included for possible Estate Recovery by Medicaid. If you do end up applying for Medicaid, her life insurance policies get submitted so Medicaid knows what’s what within them. Pay off funeral & burial first and foremost though. 

Yeah like it not enough overwhelming with your mom being ill and dying....
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Reply to igloo572

This is more of a legal question and you should probably consult an attorney in your state to determine what the law provides. Every state is different and what works in Massachusetts may not work in Vermont. Avvo has a question and answer section on their website to ask lawyers in your state questions in a similar format as this. Maybe try your question there. At least the answers will be from lawyers who know the law in your state and you'll have a better idea of what you can do. Just my two cents.
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Reply to Gabbygirl

If on Medicaid I would have thought that those policies would have been cashed in. When my sister died she also had no benefiary. My brother had to go to court and prove my nephew was next of kin to receive it. Once Mom passes, the executor or administer of her estate will need to call the insurance company and see how this is handled. I would think the money would go to her estate. Once bills are paid you maybe able to split it up between her children. I was able to cash them in as POA. But you only get cash value. Mom went on Medicaid so I had to cash them in. Money was used for prepaid funeral.
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Reply to JoAnn29

My FIL died with a fund with out a beneficiary. Like you we found it after he was no longer able to do anything about it. We had to wait and it went into the estate. As mentioned the LT facility will probably try to get the money from the estate.
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Reply to fantasmagorical

When she passes, you will no longer be POA. This will then become a probate issue.
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Reply to MACinCT

This is a legal matter. Call an attorney before you try to do anything. If you wait until she's gone, the state will take over and not even try to help you. It would be great if we could help you, but without proper legal advice you could end up with a lot of problems. God bless you and please call for legal help instead of going on line to take our advice.
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Reply to Patricia1234

Mom is not on Medicaid. She just has other insurance. Hospice is paying 100% for theirs but Mom now has to pay for the nursing home. Her 20 days paid by Medicare has all been used.
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Reply to skjeeel1947

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