Integrating Life Insurance Benefits into Your Estate Plan
Life insurance is a wonderful tool to provide income security for the insured’s dependents and to provide liquidity essential for payment of estate taxes or equalization of distributions to heirs of the estate. But neither of these purposes can be accomplished if the beneficiaries don’t know about the policy to begin with. By searing unclaimed property records and the personal records of the insured, you are much more likely to uncover assets of the estate that might otherwise go undiscovered and unpaid.
Typically, the benefits of the policy are easy to collect on as long as the beneficiaries are aware of the policy. Upon the insured’s death, the beneficiary files a death claim with the insurance company along with a certified copy of the death certificate. But if you don’t know if such a policy exists where do you start?
The personal records of the insured are the most likely place to find information on insurance policies. If you don’t find the policy itself, check bank statements for payments to insurance companies or other bills from an insurer. Be sure to contract the deceased’s employer or pension company to check for policies.
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators runs the website missingmoney.com as a simple way to search multiple states’ unclaimed property records. If you believe you know the particular insurance company that issued the policy, you may contact them directly. However, the insurance company may only communicate with an immediate heir or appointed personal representative of the estate.
If you are the insured on a life insurance policy, please make it easy on your heirs and place copies of your policy alongside your other estate planning documents and let your successors know where these documents are and how to access them.
An experienced trust and estate planning attorney at Nielsen Law Group is available for a complimentary review of your estate plan, and to discuss your goals with the tools available to achieve them. You can schedule your initial consultation by calling (480) 888-7111 or submitting a web request here.