My friend’s ex husband had life insurance policies in his revocable trust that is under California law. He went to a hospital for a long time in Nevada without insurance and died. The policies his trust still hold are whole term policies for his Mother who is alive and well. My friend is a beneficiary of that trust and wonders if creditors might seize the policies to satisfy the debt because the eventual payout of those policies when her former mother in law passes is considerable.


  1. 138 POINTS
    Robert Taylor
    If the trust is revocable, then the creditors' ability to go after the life insurance policy is the same as if the policy was simply held in the person's name (as an individual). Revocable trusts typically don't insulate the owner from much of anything; they are typically done for the sole purpose of passing assets on to the next person, and as such, whatever advantages exist because of the trust don't really become advantages until after you die. If a trust is irrevocable (which many are), then extra protections (and restrictions) exist while you are still living.
    Answered on April 17, 2016
  2. 12689 POINTS
    Ted Ratliff
    Owner, SFS Associates,
    As Robert mentioned in his answer, a Revocable Trust does not change the status of a life insurance contract. As a general rule, creditors cannot attach a life insurance policy or go after it's cash value. Some lenders may require credit life insurance be obtained in order to help secure a loan, but this is not the norm. The exception to this would be that if the beneficiary is the Estate, then the Life insurance policy becomes subject to probate and can be attached by creditors when the insured dies. Another problem could be that if the insured needs to go on Medicaid. In most States a Medicaid beneficiary can only own a life insurance policy with less than $1500 in cash value. If a person has a policy with more than $1500 in cash value the person may be required to surrender the policy before they can receive Medicaid benefits. An Irrevocable Trust may offer some protection in this regard depending on how the policy is set up and the face amount of the policy.
    Answered on April 19, 2016
  3. 21750 POINTS
    Jim Winkler
    CEO/Owner, Winkler Financial Group, Houston, Texas
    That's a great question! While the two previous gentlemen did a great job answering your question, I couldn't help but notice that you mentioned the "whole term" life policies - you may wish to go back and be certain what type of policies they are. Term and whole life are two entirely separate types of coverage, (one ends, one doesn't) and while it may have been a typo on your part, it's worth looking into if it's not. You may find Mom-in-Law isn't as covered as you think, if it's term insurance.
    I'd recommend that you discuss this also with the family legal beagle, I live in Texas and cannot say I would have the vaguest ideas of what California tax law or debt collection procedures are, so I couldn't provide you with the direction that your lawyer could.
    Thank you for asking such a great question, and good luck!
    Answered on August 25, 2016
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