Washington Law Review


James M. Higbee


This comment examines the difficult problem of characterizing the proceeds of a life insurance policy as separate or community property where the policy insures the life of a spouse and premiums have been paid with both separate and community funds. The problem commonly arises when a person takes out a life insurance policy while single, pays the first few premiums from separate funds, and then maintains the policy with community funds following marriage. Upon death of the insured spouse, the characterization of the proceeds as separate or community or partially both is significant for two reasons. Not only may such characterization determine the amount of policy proceeds that the insured may dispose of through beneficiary designation, but it will also affect the determination of the estate and inheritance tax liability of the deceased spouse.

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