On the death of a life insurance subscriber, the rule is clear: the capital goes to the designated beneficiary(ies) of the contract. But what happens to these sums when the benefit of this envelope has not been accepted by the beneficiary and the latter dies in turn? This is the subject of the question from our reader, Sonia, who is addressing the experts of the “Grand rendez-vous de l’épargne” (Capital / Radio Patrimoine). Her situation is as follows: our reader has just lost her mother, herself designated beneficiary of a life insurance contract but who has never taken steps with the insurer to notify him of the acceptance of the contract. And the insurer refuses to pay the capital to Sonia, who wants to know her rights. It is Nathalie Couzigou-Suhas, notary in Paris, who is in charge of enlightening it.
The specialist reviews the different possible scenarios. First of all, if our reader’s mother had died before the subscriber, Sonia would not be entitled to anything: “In this case, there is no representation. The benefit is presumed to be subordinated to the survival of the beneficiary of the clause over that of the subscriber. If nothing has been provided, the capital does not go to the heirs of the beneficiary but to the persons designated second (in the beneficiary clause, Ed). If nothing has been planned, it comes back to the estate of the subscriber.”
But this is not the case here with our reader, whose mother, as a reminder, died after the subscriber. Two scenarios are then possible: Sonia’s mother may have accepted the benefit of the contract during her lifetime without the insurer having had time to release the capital. “Sonia must receive these funds supposed to belong to the estate of her mother”, slice Nathalie Couzigou-Suhas. With possibly inheritance tax to be paid, since the specific taxation of life insurance does not apply, the capital being integrated into the estate assets. Another possibility: Sonia’s mother has not accepted the benefit of the contract at all. In this case, “the heirs have the capacity to accept the benefit of this capital, specifies the notary. If so, the insurer pays them according to the rules of life insurance.” Translation, our reader can completely claim the sums present in the envelope. With, in addition, a tax benefit in the form of an exemption of 152,500 euros if the premiums paid on the contract were paid before the subscriber turned 70.
Finally, the specialist recalls an essential point when taking out life insurance. To be certain that your wish to benefit your loved ones is respected after your death, remember to draft your beneficiary clause very carefully. “You can always make tailor-made clauses, providing for the hypothesis of a pre-death (the beneficiary dies before you, editor’s note), of second-tier beneficiaries. You have to go beyond the standard clauses”, recommends Nathalie Couzigou-Suhas.
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