Death and money can be delicate topics in many families. So, figuring out whether a deceased loved one had life insurance – and who the beneficiaries are – can be an extra delicate exercise.
The steps below should help you determine whether someone had life insurance, how much it is worth and who the beneficiaries are.
But first, a quick note: The best policy when it comes to life insurance policies, is to be upfront with family members and make sure everyone knows what to expect.
“It’s always best to confirm whether someone has life insurance before they pass,” says Anita Whiteman, Team Leader, Claims Services at Foresters Financial. “Not knowing can add a lot of stress to an already difficult time.”
Anyone with life insurance should let their children, spouse or other family members know that a policy exists and where the documentation is kept. Anyone with an aging or ill parent, spouse or other loved one should ask that person if they would like to share their financial details and discuss who will manage their finances if they pass away.
The following are some steps you can take to determine whether your loved one had a life insurance policy:
Make a phone call
If family members know that the deceased worked with a particular insurance provider or insurance agent, they should call them and ask about a policy. Most insurance providers will ask verification questions to confirm that the person had a certificate with them. Only the beneficiaries on record can sign the required claim forms and confirm all particulars of the coverage. They can also consult the deceased’s other advisors: lawyers, accountants and financial planners.
Do a physical search
Loved ones or an executor should look for paperwork pertaining to a life insurance policy belonging to the deceased. Places to check include desk drawers, file cabinets and safes.
Check banking records
If someone was paying into a policy regularly, payments might show up in banking statements. Remember, many people have multiple bank accounts, and all of them need to be reviewed.
Look for work-related policies
The human resources department at the deceased’s place of employment, regardless of whether they were still working or were retired when they passed, should know of any relevant workplace policies.
Contact professional associations
Teachers, accountants, lawyers and many more types of workers belong to professional associations, many of which offer life insurance to their members.
Review recent credit card transactions
If someone passed away while travelling, they might have taken out life insurance through their credit card company or a different company and paid for it with their credit card.
If these six steps don’t yield any results, and if there’s still a good reason to believe that someone had life insurance, it’s time to contact the ombudsman or the insurance commissioner. In Canada, the OmbudService for Life and Health Insurance can send a request to all member insurance companies to determine whether the deceased had a policy. In the United States, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a Life Insurance Policy Locator Service.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Foresters Financial and its representatives do not provide legal, tax or estate advice. Foresters Financial and Foresters are trade names and trademarks of The Independent Order of Foresters (a fraternal benefit society, 789 Don Mills Road, Toronto, Canada M3C 1T9) and its subsidiaries.
416717 CAN/US (09/18)