Removing the mention of the beneficiary clause “failing that, my heirs”, does not necessarily have the desired effect

In the event of the death of the beneficiary of life insurance, the capital is not paid to his heirs but to those of the subscriber. And this, even if the subscriber had taken care to cross out the mention “failing that, my heirs”, in the beneficiary clause.

When he subscribed his life insurance, Mr. X has designated a woman as beneficiary of the capital on his death, taking care to cross out the standard mention of the clause “failing that, my heirs”. When the subscriber died, the person designated in the beneficiary clause had himself been deceased for more than 8 years, without the clause having been modified.

The insurer, considering that there was no specific beneficiary, therefore paid the capital to the estate of his client.
Dissatisfied with not receiving the funds, the beneficiary’s son contested, explaining that the subscriber’s intention was to gratify his mother as well as her descendants and that by crossing out the phrase “failing this, my heirs”, he just didn’t want to pass the funds on to his estate.

No mention of the son in the beneficiary clause

The beneficiary’s son could not be awarded the funds since the beneficiary clause of thelife insurance didn’t mention it. The beneficiary having died, the capital is therefore added to the estate’s assets to be distributed among the subscriber’s heirs. The fact that the subscriber crossed out the pre-printed mention “failing that, my heirs” in the beneficiary clause does not change anything.

Also, because there are no designated beneficiaries, the funds will not benefit from the tax advantages oflife insurance and will be subject to inheritance tax.

For the insurance mediator, the insurer has therefore done well to pay the funds to the notary of the estate. If the subscriber of a life insurance wishes to designate a person and their descendants as beneficiary, it is necessary to insert, “for example a statement such as “living or represented” afterwards”, explains Arnaud Chneiweiss, insurance mediator to whom the file was submitted. Such an addition allows the representatives of the beneficiary, that is to say the heirs of the latter to receive the capital, in the event of the death of the designated beneficiary.


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