Finding a loved one’s life insurance policy after they pass away may not be a top priority right away, but it can be a helpful resource. You may not even know that they had a life insurance policy. Checking to find a life insurance policy can help cover expenses and ensure a lasting legacy.
If you don’t find policy records in their belongings, you could try contacting their financial advisor or previous employer. You can also check with your state’s unclaimed property office. From finding the policy to learning how to file as a beneficiary, there are several steps to keep in mind.
Table of Contents
- How to Find Out if a Deceased Parent Has Life Insurance
- What Happens to Unclaimed Life Insurance Money?
- Who Can Request Information About a Deceased Parent’s Life Insurance?
- Can You Be a Beneficiary and Not Know It?
- How to Get a Copy of a Deceased Parent’s Life Insurance Policy
- How to File a Life Insurance Claim
- Frequently Asked Questions
It’s possible to be a life insurance beneficiary and be unaware of it, as policyholders can name beneficiaries without informing them.
Preparing documents such as the death certificate, proof of relationship to the policyholder and personal identification can help make the claims process easier.
If there are any unclaimed death benefits on a policy, they will be turned over to the state’s unclaimed property office.
How to Find Out if a Deceased Parent Had Life Insurance
If you aren’t sure whether your deceased parent had a life insurance policy, there are several ways to find out.
- Search their personal belongings: You might find your parent’s life insurance policy with their important documents, possibly in their home office or safe.
- Contact their previous employers, financial advisors, accountants or lawyers: The professionals your parent previously worked with may know where their life insurance policy is, especially financial advisors and lawyers.
- Try life insurance policy locators: Organizations like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), MIB Group or National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) can help you find a parent’s life insurance policy. After making a request, they will ask participating companies to search their records. It may take them a few days to get back to you.
Finding your deceased parent’s life insurance policy may be a challenge, but it’s important to remember there are resources to help you search.
Other Methods to Find Out if Someone Has a Life Insurance Policy
There are several ways to research whether your deceased parent had a life insurance policy.
- Check bank statements: Bank statements can give you insight into whether your parent paid for monthly, quarterly or annual life insurance premiums. Look for a consistent monthly payment amount and examine who it was paid to, to determine if your parent had a life insurance policy you are unaware of.
- Check mail or email: Insurers may have sent periodic updates and newsletters to your deceased loved one. If you have access to your parent’s email, you may want to check there.
- Check for life insurance applications from other policies they owned: If your parent has other life insurance policies, you can review their application. This should come with a list of other policies owned at the time of their application.
- Review income tax returns: Income tax returns record expenses paid to life insurance companies. If you can find your parent’s income tax return, you may be able to spot any interest income or expenses paid.
- Contact state insurance departments: Your state’s insurance department can forward your inquiry to licensed agencies, which can help you find your parent’s policy. The agency will contact you when they’ve tracked it down.
- Check with the state’s unclaimed property office: Unclaimed death benefits can be given to your state’s unclaimed property office, which is responsible for holding such benefits. Contact your state’s unclaimed property office to see if it holds your parent’s life insurance policy benefits.
- Hire a private search firm: If all else fails and you aren’t sure where to look, you can hire a private search firm to track down a deceased parent’s life insurance policy. It can take over and search other avenues you may not be aware of.
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What Happens to Unclaimed Life Insurance Money?
It is mandatory for insurers to turn over unclaimed benefits to the state’s unclaimed property office within a given period. Generally, this office is a subsidiary of the state treasurer’s office.
In most states, life insurance companies are required to make good-faith efforts to locate all life insurance beneficiaries. This means regularly checking with a central database called the Death Master File to ensure that they are aware of policyholder deaths.
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators can help you check for unclaimed life insurance benefits.
Who Can Request Information About a Deceased Parent’s Life Insurance?
Not just anyone can request information about a deceased policyholder’s life insurance. Only limited information is available about life insurance policy information, except for:
The executor of the estate
This is the person responsible for ensuring your parent’s will is followed and their estate is managed the way they want it to be.
Next of kin
As your parent’s child, you are often their next of kin. This also applies to their spouse, closest living blood relative or adopted family members.
Any beneficiary on your parent’s policy, whether a charity, trust, estate or someone else you might not know, should be informed of your parent’s passing and claim.
Can You Be a Beneficiary and Not Know It?
It’s possible to be a life insurance beneficiary and not know it.
In most cases, a beneficiary knows that they are one and where to find the paperwork because the policyholder informed them ahead of time. Sometimes, however, a policyholder will forget to notify their beneficiaries.
For example, if you were a minor child when your parent took out the policy, they may not have thought to inform you when you came of age.
How to Know if You’re a Beneficiary
A policy will state who the beneficiaries are — if your name is included, that means you are one.
However, there are no rules or laws regarding who can be a beneficiary. A beneficiary can be a charity, business, trust or person. Your parent could have named someone you don’t know as a beneficiary.
There are two types of beneficiaries: primary and contingent.
- Primary Beneficiary: The primary beneficiaries are the first people to receive the death benefit from a policy.
- Contingent Beneficiary: The contingent beneficiaries are second in line and receive the benefit if the primary beneficiaries have died.
As a beneficiary, it’s important to be aware of any life insurance scams, as they can lead to identity theft. Scammers can use life insurance to ask for your personal information, claiming it is needed for you to claim the death benefit.
A life insurance beneficiary is someone who will receive some or all of a policy’s death benefit after the policyholder’s passing. This is typically someone the policyholder values greatly and can benefit the most, such as a spouse, child or relative. It can also be an organization that the policyholder values, such as a charity.
How to Get a Copy of a Deceased Parent’s Life Insurance Policy
To get a copy of your deceased parent’s life insurance policy, you will be required to submit documents proving your identity and your relationship to them. These include, but are not limited to:
- Your personal details (name, contact information and social security number)
- Deceased’s personal details like their name, including maiden name, if applicable, and social security number
- A death certificate
- Proof of your relationship with the deceased
How to File a Life Insurance Claim
Once you find your parent’s life insurance policy, it’s important to know how to make a claim. This can help you get the intended death benefit your parent left behind.
Contact the insurance company
Get in touch with your parent’s insurer to ask about their forms and other requirements.
Obtain a death certificate
A death certificate is necessary to prove that the policyholder has died. This may take a few days, so it’s best to request this early.
Fill out the necessary forms and send them in
When you’ve received them, fill out the forms and submit all the necessary documents. Make sure everything is included before sending it to your parent’s insurer.
Inform the insurer how you want to be paid
Insurers will often have several options to pay the death benefit, whether by check, bank deposit or other means. Depending on the lender, you can receive the funds in a lump sum or through monthly payments.
While there is no set deadline to claim a life insurance benefit, it’s best to claim it as soon as possible.
How Long Do You Need to Wait for a Life Insurance Policy to Be Paid?
An insurer will pay your parent’s death benefit based on how quickly you request it. In most cases, a beneficiary will receive their payment within 60 days. Timing is affected by the following factors:
- The length of time after death it took to file a claim
- Whether the beneficiary provided required documentation
- The length of time the policy was active
- The insured’s cause of death
- State laws regarding life insurance payout
Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding how to track down and claim a deceased parent’s life insurance can save you time. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about the process.