I have no children and a small estate. I have a small life insurance policy to be used to cover my cremation. Do I name the executor of my will as the beneficiary? If so, do I specifiy in my will the money should be used for my cremation?
I agree with Attorney Brewer. The beneficiary of the policy has no obligation to use the proceeds to pay for your cremation. If you name your estate as the beneficiary and direct the executor to use the proceeds to pay for your cremation, the executor may have to wait quite a long time before the probate court allows the funds to be used.
A better way to handle the situation, as Attorney Brewer suggested, is to set up a Trust and to name the Trust as the beneficiary of the policy. You then direct the Trustee to use the proceeds to pay for your cremation.
And, another way is to make your final arrangements with a funeral home well in advance. Often funeral homes will accept an assignment of an insurance policy as payment, or they will offer you other terms that will be acceptable.
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The person you name as beneficiary has no legal obligation to use the funds to pay for any of your expenses, including your burial expenses. If you want the policy to be used to pay for your cremation, then you might need to name your ESTATE as the beneficiary. Then, in your will, make sure you state that the insurance proceeds are to be used to pay for your cremation.
Another choice might be to establish a living trust - name your executor as the trustee of the trust and in the trust document, specify that the life insurance policy is to be used to pay for your cremation.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Estate Planning Attorney
Although I cannot comment specifically on your case, I do offer one additional option not discussed which is the use of an irrevocable funeral trust.
In most cases, a person can take an already existing life insurance policy, and with the assistance of an attorney or insurance agent, make a a 1035 tax free exchange of the policy to a different insurance policy that would be funded into an irrevocable funeral trust. There are some funeral trusts that operate independent of a funeral home and provide a person with the option to have cremation or burial at a funeral home of the survivor's choice. By doing this, you eliminate the concern as to whether your insurance would be used for your funeral planning since the purpose of the trust is to hold assets to be used for your funeral (cremation or burial). Moreover, it eliminates the need to name the estate as the beneficiary of the insurance policy or provide directives in a Will thereby having to wait for a probate administration to be opened. However, you would want an attorney to review the terms of any funeral trust with you. And, most attoneys would not need to draft a funeral trust because these types of trusts are generally "pooled-trusts", controlled by a master trust agreement, where a corporation or financial institution is the trustee.
Depending upon your age, you may want to obtain some advice on long-term care planning and the potential need for Medicaid. This is germane to your question because in some states, assets in an irrevocable funeral trust may be considered an exempt asset under Medicaid regulations up to a specific amount.
DISCLAIMER: This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship nor will the answer provided be considered confidential. The attorney providing the answer has not been retained to represent the indidivual who has asked this question. This answer is not legal advice and must not be relied upon in making any legal decision or legal action. It is necessary to seek out the advice of an attorney before you take any legal action.