Life Insurance Proceeds Paid To A Trust Are Not Subject To Creditor Claims


[author: Shane Buntrock]

The Arizona Court of Appeals recently held in the case In Re King, that even though the debts of the decedent were greater than her assets at death, the life insurance proceeds, payable to her trust created prior to her death, were NOT subject to creditor claims. In the King case, the life insurance proceeds were in the amount of $2 million and at death the proceeds were to be paid into the trust created by the deceased and then e paid to the deceased’s sole surviving child. The deceased’s trust did state that the trustee was to pay expenses of the trust but this broad language was not sufficient to waive the protections provided by Arizona law.

Arizona law generally provides that life insurance proceeds paid to a third party after the death of the insured are not subject to creditor claims. ARS 20-1131 (A). However, King was the first time an Arizona court reviewed whether the state statute that exempts life insurance proceeds from the deceased creditors, also applied to a trust where the proceeds were first paid to trustee of the trust and then paid to the beneficiary. The creditors argued that the statute only applied to third parties and that the trust was not a third party since the trustee of the trust after King died was her personal representative of the deceased’s estate. In King, the insurance policy was owned by the trust created for King and it was the beneficiary of the life insurance policy proceeds. The court in King ruled the trust was a third party under the statute. The court, in reaching its decision, reasoned that life insurance proceeds do not come to the deceased person and are never part of his or her estate but come into existence after the death and are then paid to the designated beneficiary via an insurance contract between the insured and the insurance company. Therefore, the creditors of an insolvent estate could recover any of the life insurance proceeds.

If you need advice on how to structure your trust to avoid creditor claims our estate planning and litigation lawyers in Mesa, AZ can help you today. Please call us at (480) 833-1113.


Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Rowley Chapman & Barney, Ltd. | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.