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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10225
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My mother passed away a few months ago and left no will.

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My mother passed away a few months ago and left no will. Although she has been separated from my dad for about 29 years they were never divorced as far as I know and it was not a legal separation. My dad lives in America and actually has another wife. My mum had life insurance and made my older brother a beneficiary. In order for him to claim life insurance he has been told that he needs a letter of administration. He needs to complete a probate form which is asking for details of my mum's spouse. We are a bit confused as to what to do, as my mum and dad have been separated for such a long time and there is no evidence that they ever divorced. Any advice would be appreciated.

Hello - how long ago did your mum take out this insurance? do you have an address for your dad in the U.S?

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Customer: replied 5 months ago.
am not sure when exactly my mum took out the insurance, around 10years ago. Yes I have an address and contact number for my dad in America.

Thank you. As you appreciate, your father was never divorced and he committed the criminal offence of bigamy when he purported to marry his new wife. In fact, unless he remarries his new wife, she has no legal status.

Your father remains married to your mother (from what you have said) and as such whilst your brother inherits everything in the life-insurance policy by virtue of the fact that he was named as a beneficiary, your father inherits everything else. He may agree, in view of the fact that he has another “wife” that he doesn’t want anything from your late mother’s estate but legally he is still her husband.

Because of the amount of money involved in the life-insurance policy (the proceeds will go to your brother if he is named as beneficiary) the life-insurance company will either want Grant of Probate (if there was a will) or Letters of Administration (if no will) from the probate registry. That is the situation you are in.

There is no reason why a close relative such as you or your brother cannot make that application.

Kind regards