When a family member commits suicide, what happens to their life insurance policy? There is a common belief that there will be no-pay out, but that isn’t always the case. It depends on when the policy was taken out.
Typically, an insurance policy will not be paid if the insured’s death was due to self-inflicted injury within a certain period from the start of the policy. Typically, this period of time is two years, according to insurance firm Progressive.
If the suicide exclusion period has ended, life insurance can cover suicide and pay out the death benefit — provided no terms in the policy have been violated.
Life insurance companies require the policy to be in place for at least two years to protect themselves from people buying policies and then committing suicide shortly after so the families receive the payout. The waiting period is known as a suicide clause.
The exclusion for suicides includes instances of doctor-assisted suicide. Five states allow assisted suicide: California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, Forbes reported.
There were questions swirling around when beloved entertainer Stephen “tWitch” Boss committed suicide on Dec. 13. He was 40 years old. The former DJ and sidekick for “The Ellen Show” left a note before he died of a gunshot wound to the head, The Los Angeles Times reported. The death was ruled a suicide by the L.A. County Coroner. The TV star died at an Encino, Calif., motel near the home he shared with his wife, Allison Holker Boss, and three children.
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It was later revealed Boss did not have a will, and some questioned if his wife and children would be left in financial trouble due to his sudden death. While there was no public information on his life insurance policies, his wife did have to file a California Spousal Property Petition in Los Angeles.
A Spousal Property Petition is a legal tool used to transfer or confirm property to a surviving spouse, according to legal resource platform TrustandWill.com. This allows the property to transfer without undergoing the full process of probate. The Spouse Petition is a state-specific form.
There were also rumors that Boss might have been in trouble financially. Though this has not been proven, even so, his wife would not be liable for that debt unless it was a shared debt, such as a co-signed loan or joint credit card.
When someone dies owing a debt, the debt does not go away and the deceased person’s estate is responsible for paying any unpaid debts. Their assets will pay off the debts. If no money or property is left, the debt generally will not be paid. No one else is responsible for paying the debts of someone who died, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Stephen “tWitch” Boss presents the award for top Latin artist at the Billboard Music Awards on Oct. 14, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)