Question: I am the mother of three children. I need help in claiming life insurance from the employers of my common-law husband. He died recently but did not leave any beneficiaries or trustees, so I am unable to retrieve this money. What are the procedures to retrieve this money?
HELPLINE: I referred your email to an attorney-at-law who works in Office of the Administrator General (AG).
The matters that you raised have more to do with our system of laws than they have to do with the business of insurance. In order to understand the advice that the attorney has given, you should first have some basic information about the duties and responsibilities of the AG.
The AG was created by law in 1873. Section 12 of the Administrator General Act gives the AG the power "to apply for letters of administration to the estates of all persons who shall die intestate without leaving a widower, widow, brother, sister, or any ... ancestor or descendant, or leaving any such relative if no such relative shall take out letters of administration".
Letters of administration are formal documents issued by a court. The letters appoint someone to manage the estate of the deceased in certain situations. This happens when the deceased has left no will or the executor named in a will is unable or unwilling to serve.
This appointment is made by issuing a short document. It is an order or a decree that serves as evidence of the administrator's authority.
"... It needs to be ascertained ... whether the deceased died testate (leaving a will). Where the deceased died testate his will needs to be reviewed in order to ascertain whether he had named a beneficiary to benefit from this insurance policy. In the event that he did not name a beneficiary, it must also be ascertained whether there is a residuary clause in the will - this is a clause that would catch and deal with all assets not specifically left to any beneficiary in the will - and also if the deceased named a residuary beneficiary. If there is a residuary clause and a named residuary beneficiary, then that person or persons will be entitled to the proceeds from the insurance policy.
"In the event that the deceased died intestate without having made a will, then based on the information given ... it appears that the proceeds from the insurance policy will be payable to the deceased's estate. In the event this is so, the law dictates who the beneficiaries of the deceased's estate are and this would currently include his children once they prove their relationship to the deceased by producing birth certificate, an affiliation order, a maintenance order, declaration of paternity and once you retain an attorney to file an Application for Declaration of Spouseship and the court issues said order to her declaring her the deceased's spouse.
"In light of the fact that the deceased's reported children are minors, the matter should be reported to our department ... . This is to facilitate our department taking the requisite step to commence and follow through with the administration process."
You need to retain the services of a trusted lawyer to help you to solve the problem in getting the funds for your three children.
Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and free advice about the management of risks and email@example.comSMS/text message to 812-7233