Can my cousin take out life insurance for my mother?

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    Dear Penny,

    My mother died of Alzheimer’s in the Philippines after several years. While she lived in Maryland, a cousin took out an insurance policy for her. She agreed, knowing she would only pay $ 50 a month and the rest will be borne by her niece.

    Now my cousin is asking for four death certificates and wants me to fill out forms because she believes I am the beneficiary. If she owns the policy, what does that have to do with me? I asked for a copy of the policy because I have no idea what it’s trying to do. Please help.

    – Confused daughter

    Love confused

    Trust your gut feeling. Don’t give your cousin your mother’s death certificate or any other personal information she asks for.

    There are a lot of things that sound sketchy here. The biggest red flag is that your cousin had life insurance for your mother. You can’t just get insurance for everyone. Imagine how vulnerable the system would be to abuse if we could all bet on each other’s lives.


    To get life insurance for someone else, you must have an insurable interest in their life, which means that if they died, you would suffer financial loss. It is usually assumed that you have an insurable interest in the life of your spouse or child. You can even have an insurable interest in your ex-spouse’s life if they have been sentenced to pay child support or child support. But a niece is unlikely to have an insurable interest in her aunt’s life unless there are unusual circumstances – for example, they are business associates or your cousin co-signed a loan for your mother.

    You also need the person’s consent to take out life insurance. I have to ask myself: did your mother fully understand what she was signing? Or if you’ve only recently discovered this policy, is it possible your cousin forged her signature? It’s also strange that your mother made partial payments when your cousin owned the policy.

    It’s pretty incredible that your cousin bought life insurance for your mother out of the pure kindness of her heart. A more realistic explanation would be that they want to pocket most, if not all, of the proceeds.

    You can still ask your cousin for a copy of the policy. But don’t be surprised if you are faced with a deluge of excuses and confused explanations. Even if your cousin provided you with the document, I wouldn’t assume it’s legitimate. Contact the insurance company directly to review the policy. You can present the death certificate directly to the insurer if it is genuine. The company can send you any required forms.

    If your cousin doesn’t cooperate, you can search the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ online life insurance policy locator. The organization will ask the participating companies to search for policies on your mother’s behalf. When they find a policy and you are the beneficiary, they will give you the details. Your cousin doesn’t need to be involved. Even if you are not a beneficiary, you as your mother’s next of kin are likely entitled to receive this information.

    If you believe your cousin had shameful intentions, you should contact your state insurance commissioner. Some people are reluctant to report family members to the authorities. But if you suspect your cousin cheated on your mother, she could easily do the same to others. Older people are particularly vulnerable to being betrayed by people they trust, such as family members. At the very least, you should warn other family members if you think this has happened.

    Your cousin likely received information about your mother, such as her social security number, when she received the policy. Unfortunately, there is a risk that the deceased could open fraudulent accounts on their behalf. A smart move would be to contact each of the three credit bureaus to tell them that your mother has died.

    I’m sorry you have to deal with all of this on top of losing your mother. But you have every right to be suspicious here. Don’t let anyone, especially your cousin, tell you otherwise.

    Robin Hartilll is a certified financial planner and senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].


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