It’s not uncommon for a senior to let her adult children know about her life insurance policies. In many cases, it’s because that child or all of her children are the beneficiaries. It is also not unusual for one child to be named executor of the parent’s estate.
The trouble arises, if Mom took actions before she died and didn’t tell anyone, or if she only told one child. In this case, the mother kept important documents in a safety deposit box. A brother, who lived closer to the mother, told his sister that before their mother died, she made some big decisions: she cashed out the life insurance policies, emptied the safety deposit box, sold her car and signed a reverse mortgage on the house.
Therefore, how does the sister determine if whatever's left was evenly divided?
It will take some investigating. The good news is that there's always a paper trail.
nj.com’s recent article asks, “My mom died. How can I know I'm getting the right inheritance?” As the article explains, if the policies were cashed out by the parent, they no longer exist.
If you know the name of the insurance company and policy number, you can try to call the life insurance company’s home office to confirm this. However, they may not give out much information, if you weren’t the named beneficiary.
There are a few tips to help track down life insurance old policies.
If Mom had a reverse mortgage, then you know she owned a home. If the home wasn’t owned jointly, then it would be a probate asset.
One way to determine this, is to check with the county court where she died, to see if a will was probated or any estate administration application was filed. The home would need to be sold by the executor or administrator, so there would be some paperwork. If there was, you can contact the executor/administrator for more information.
With a parent’s safety deposit box, the executor/administrator, once appointed, would have the authority to empty the contents of the box. However, if Mom previously emptied the contents, there’d be nothing for the executor/administrator to retrieve. You should check with that individual.
If you don't believe the executor is being honest with you, you may need to work with your own attorney to make sure you’re getting what you're due from Mom’s estate.
Reference: nj.com (February 21, 2019) “My mom died. How can I know I'm getting the right Why is Estate Planning so Important for Cancer Patients?inheritance?”