Misconceptions abound about wills, life insurance

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The Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance or SGLI is a program that was created to provide low-cost life insurance to eligible servicemembers. However, there are several myths and misconceptions surrounding SGLI, such as when and where it applies.  With that in mind, let’s talk about Wills and life insurances, specifically, SGLI.

A Will or Testament is a formal document that indicates how a person wishes to distribute his or her estate after his or her death.  If the court gets involved in the distribution of someone’s estate, that process is known as Probate.  During the probate process, absent contentions, the court will enforce the language of the will; subject to some restrictions.

A life insurance policy is essentially a contract between a person and the insurance company.  The insured agrees to make premium payments and the insurance company agrees to pay a lump-sum payment to the beneficiary under the policy upon the insured’s death.  Upon the insured’s death, the contract is considered to be fulfilled and can no longer be changed.  Once the beneficiary of an insurance policy receives the insurance money, that money belongs to beneficiary alone.

Using a will or a testament to tell the beneficiary of an insurance policy, such as SGLI, or how to use the money from the insurance is not enforceable.  The same is true if the will designates a different beneficiary for the insurance under the will.  Because a testament can only distribute one’s property upon one’s death, a testament cannot be used to dictate how a life insurance should be distributed or how a beneficiary should use the money received.

If you have questions regarding a will, SGLI or other legal issues, please call the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office at 760-380-5321 and make an appointment.

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