- to a surviving spouse, if none;
- to children, if none;
- to parents, if none;
- to siblings, if none;
- to the estate.
The attorney was surprised the estate was so far down the list. Apparently she had a client who had had a will disinheriting his relatives (a.k.a heirs at law), but did not put that intention on his/her life insurance policy. The end result, the life insurance policy will follow the distribution in the contract, not the will.
When creating or updating an estate plan it is wise to work with an attorney focused on estate planning and to make sure a review of your beneficiary forms is include. If your uncertain about what will happen, ask your attorney.