Life insurance paid to trustee of insolvent estate and not to intended beneficiary

Life insurance paid to trustee of insolvent estate and not to intended beneficiary

Mr Wentzel took out a life
insurance policy
with Discovery Life Limited (Discovery) insuring
the life of his wife, whom he was married to in community of property in 2007,
in terms of which he appointed himself as the beneficiary of the policy.
The same policy also insured his life and appointed his wife
as beneficiary in the event of his death.
Their joint estate was sequestrated in 2012.
Mrs Wentzel died in 2017 and Mr Wentzel claimed the
proceeds from Discovery as the beneficiary of the policy.
Discovery informed Mr Wentzel that the payment of
the proceeds would be made to the trustees of the insolvent estate. He
approached the Pretoria High Court in
Wentzel v Discovery Life Limited and Others to object and claimed that the administration of the insolvent estate
had long since been finalised.
The court had to decide whether the payment of a life insurance policy by an insurance provider
to a nominated beneficiary, being an unrehabilitated insolvent, would vest in
the beneficiary or the trustees of the insolvent estate.
The court found that the estate of the insolvent
remained vested in the trustees until such time that the insolvent was either
re-vested with the estate, pursuant to a composition or his rehabilitation,
neither of which had occurred. Accordingly, it directed that the insurance
proceeds had to be paid directly to the trustees of the insolvent estate.
The moral of this tale is that the Wentzels should
have made the beneficiary of the Discovery policy a trust and not themselves.
Living Trust-centered estate plans provide superior asset protection.

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