Does a beneficiary on life insurance policy need to notify siblings?

Q: I am the beneficiary on the Life insurance policies and a total control account for my mother that I cared for 10 years. Not much, but she had them. Are these policies part of the estate now or do they belong to me and my family I would like to enter them into an account for my children. My siblings only came around when they needed to and were present the last two months of my mother’s life. Other than that, I took care of my mom, for the 10 years since my father passed. I would rather have my mom here and the money is not important to me, but under the circumstances, my brothers are wanting whatever they can get at this point. Please advise. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You should sit down with a probate attorney to have the documents looked at. I can only give you general information. Insurance policies with living beneficiaries, pass directly to the beneficiary upon the death of the owner or the insured. There is no inheritance tax owed on them under PA law. When I last handled a Met Life “Total Control” account, it was just like a bank account with a beneficiary, like TOD, or in-trust-for account. The account will pass to you directly and inheritance tax will be owed. If you only inherited the insurance policy and the Total Control account, there is no need to open an estate. You don’t have to tell your siblings anything, except that there was nothing for them to inherit. If they are curious enough, they can search the Register of Wills and find that no estate has been opened or check the Department of Revenue to look up the inheritance tax return once it is filed.

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