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Under Florida law, is a payout from a life insurance policy to a beneficiary considered an inheritance?

Port Richey, FL |

I have a binding agreement with a third party to share with him any money I receive from any inheritance. The agreement--governed by Florida law--does not define "inheritance." The agreement likewise says nothing about sharing any money I might receive from a life insurance policy as a beneficiary of the policy. So--under Florida law, is a payout from a life insurance policy to a beneficiary considered an inheritance?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. I think arguments can be made both ways. I think this question goes to contract law looking at intent of the parties. My Black's law dictionary says an inheritance is an estate or property which a man has by descent, an heir to another, or which he may transmit to another, as his heir.

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  2. If the Agreement is silent about the definition of inheritance, then it would be a matter of intent. A life insurance policy is a Contract and arguably falls outside of the general understanding of inheritance. To be cautious, and you should be, I would seek the written opinion of a qualified attorney who will review the Agreement and provide you with legal advice on this matter.

    Answers to questions on this site are not intended to be specific legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship. Hiring an attorney is a very important process which requires a high degree of diligence as well as entering into an agreement regarding the services to be provided and the fees to be charged.

  3. Although the other attorney answers to this question are excellent, I believe the answer hinges upon whether the life insurance policy was made a part of the estate. If the insurance form said pay it to my estate, it became part of the estate to be distributed as inheritance. If not, then it would not be an inheritance.

  4. Interesting question and you have some good answers-so I will approach it differently.
    So-what makes a binding agreement? What was the consideration for the agreement?
    If you give up part of the of the "inheritance"-what did you receive as consideration?
    Are you blood related to the deceased and did you receive anything else as part of your family inheritance?
    I think this would be a question for the court to unravel all the factors before a decision could be made.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.

  5. I agree with Attorney Lindquist that this could be argued, either way. With insurance, unless it is payable to the estate, there is no way that the other party is going to be able to find out about the payment. That does not answer your question. But you have additional food for thought.

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.

  6. I agree with Mr. Pippen's answer. First, consult an attorney to review the agreement to see if it will hold up in a court of law. Second, you will need to weigh the economics of the decision. How much did you receive from the policy proceeds? If its a small policy, say $5000, then is it worth keeping it for yourself and subjecting yourself to a lawsuit if the other party finds out? If its large, then it may be worth the fight. The cause of action would be for the other party to sue you for breach of contract (i.e., the agreement). Also important to know is whether there is an attorney's fee provision in the agreement. The general rule is that everyone pays for their own attorney unless their is a contract or statute that provides otherwise. If there is a clause that states something along the lines of "if litigation is brought to enforce the provisions of this agreement, then the prevailing party is entitled to their attorney's fees", then it should weigh into your economic analysis of the situation.

    Consult an attorney on this one before you make a decision.

    This answer has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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