Mom's Annuity Outlived Her. Can I Keep the Money?

Dear Insurance Adviser, 

My mother was receiving annuity payments for 25 years because of an auto accident. She died last year, and the annuity payments are still being deposited in her account. Can I keep those payments? -- Lakisha

Dear Lakisha,

You probably may not keep money still coming in from your late mother's annuity.

When your mother settled her liability claim against the driver who injured her, she had the option of taking her settlement in in a lump-sum amount, or she could take it in a series of monthly payments that would continue as long as she lived, which is what she clearly chose. Anytime you want an income stream that will continue for the rest of your life, an insurance annuity is the answer.

Here's the problem for you: Such an annuity payout usually would have ended when your mother died. I recommend that you talk to the insurance company claims people who are administering her claim. Tell them your mother passed away. Then ask if there are any survivors benefits. If so, there generally would be a named beneficiary whom the insurance company would need to contact. You may need to consult an attorney.

By the way, if your mother was receiving benefits from Social Security, it needs to be notified as well.

Good luck.

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