Erin Connors’ article about designating your life insurance beneficiary [BCMJ 2022;64:377] has solid, poignant information, recommending that you designate a beneficiary for your policy in the case of your death and ensure that you stipulate a trustee to handle the funds if the beneficiary is still a minor.
When our son unexpectedly died 20 years ago without having made a will, nephews had been named as beneficiaries of his two policies. The one living in BC immediately lost 10% of the payout to the public trustee, who had to handle the funds under BC law. The one living in Quebec was able to avoid this by having his parents designated as trustees.
Another BC peculiarity, and a catch-22, is that to administer an intestate estate one needs letters of administration, which can be obtained only if details of items like life insurance policies are given up front. But to get those details, insurance companies demand that you provide them with letters of administration!
Perhaps the insurance department of Doctors of BC could spearhead changes to probate law in BC to remove this legal incongruity and to make it possible for parents to administer life insurance policy benefits for minors under the supervision of a public trustee, as is done in Quebec, without the large windfall deduction from those funds.
—Anthony Walter, MD
This letter was submitted in response to “Life insurance: Time for a beneficiary designation checkup.”
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