Can the IRS Take Money From A Life Insurance Policy?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Understanding IRS Claims on Life Insurance

Yes, the IRS can potentially take money from a life insurance policy under certain circumstances. Generally, if the beneficiary of the life insurance policy is an individual, the IRS cannot take the death benefit directly unless the beneficiary has unresolved IRS debts or other federal tax liabilities. However, if the death benefit is paid to the deceased’s estate, it becomes part of the estate’s assets. In this situation, the IRS can claim the funds to settle any outstanding taxes owed by the estate. This includes federal income taxes, estate taxes, or other tax debts owed by the deceased at the time of their death.

When the Beneficiary is an Individual

  • Typical Scenario: The IRS cannot directly access the death benefit.
  • Exception: If the beneficiary owes taxes, the IRS may claim part of the benefit.

When the Beneficiary is the Deceased’s Estate

  • Estate as Beneficiary: Death benefit becomes an asset of the estate.
  • Tax Debts of the Estate: Used to pay any outstanding taxes owed by the estate.

Key Considerations

  1. Designating Beneficiaries: Choosing an individual as a beneficiary can protect the benefit from estate taxes.
  2. Estate Size and Taxes: Larger estates are more likely to owe estate taxes.
  3. Outstanding Debts of the Deceased: Unpaid taxes of the deceased can be claimed from the estate.


While the IRS generally cannot take money directly from a life insurance policy when the beneficiary is an individual, they can potentially access these funds if paid to the deceased’s estate. Proper beneficiary designation can help protect life insurance proceeds from tax claims. Understanding these nuances ensures better financial planning and estate management. Contact us today for a free quote.

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed financial professional, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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