She and her husband had gotten married about two years ago, and were the parents of a toddler. Her husband was healthy, a soldier who recently completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Tragedy struck after he got home. While out for a run, he had a heart attack and died.
Her husband had a life insurance policy that he had acquired before they were married. The death benefits would have been helpful as she pieced her life together after he died. However he had named his siblings as beneficiaries, and never updated his beneficiary designations after he got married or when their child was born.
Perhaps he thought that his wife was automatically entitled to the policy after their marriage. Or perhaps he intended to change the beneficiary designations, but procrastinated. He was young and healthy. He’d eventually get to it. He died before he could. The policy was paid out to his siblings, who refused to help their brother’s young widow.
Insurance policies pass by contract to the person you have named as the beneficiary. If you obtained an insurance policy before you were married or had children, double check your beneficiary designations to make sure they reflect your current wishes.
Otherwise, the people who benefit from the policy may not be the ones who depend on you most.