My Grandmother didn't have a house or a car payment but may have owed money to a furniture rent to own company. Is it my responsibility as her beneficiary to research and pay any bills she had before we can spend this money?
If you are the named beneficiary in the contract, the answer is no.
My colleague is correct. If you were the named beneficiary of the life insurance policy, then it passed outside of your grandmother's estate. It is not your job as beneficiary to research and pay bills. That is the responsibility of the personal representative of her estate.
The information provided in this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are interested in his legal services, feel free to call Chris at (303) 409-7635 at his law office in the Denver Tech Center. All initial consultations are free of charge.
No, you surely don't. I agree with my colleagues. If that money came directly to you (that is, did not pass through her probate or estate) it is yours. That's one of the reasons it is important for people to remember to review and update their beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, to ensure the proceeds do NOT pass through the estate where they will be subjected to claims. Enjoy your grandmother's generosity!
Insurance Law Lawyer
No, life insurance benefits due a named beneficiary are non-probate assets. That is, they do not pass through the estate of the decedent. You do not have a legal obligation to do any such research or pay any bills of the deceased insured.
The foregoing is a general answer based upon limited information, should not be construed as legal advise, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is the opinion of the writer alone.