How to Collect a Decedent's Life and Loan Insurance Proceeds
One of an estate executor's jobs is to find all the decedent’s life insurance policies and collect the proceeds. The decedent may have multiple policies; be sure to locate them all. Look for policy information in the decedent’s personal papers and check with the decedent’s bank(s) to see if he or she had a policy there. Also, look for loan insurance policies that could affect the estate.
To collect a policy’s proceeds, send a certified copy of the death certificate and a copy of your appointment as executor or administrator to the insurance company. If the company wants the policy itself, be sure that you send it via certified mail, return receipt requested, or some other form of delivery service where you’ll receive proof that someone at the insurance company received it.
Insurance may appear in a couple of different forms including:
Traditional life insurance: If a traditional life insurance policy owned by the insured was in force on the date of death (meaning the policy hadn’t lapsed), life insurance pays an amount specified in the insurance contract to the designated beneficiary, minus the value of any outstanding loans taken against the cash value in the policy. Insurance on the decedent’s life owned by another person isn’t included in the decedent’s probate or taxable estate.
When searching for life insurance policies, you often need to look in less-than-obvious places. Many people have small policies as a courtesy from their banks or credit unions. As you are writing to request date-of-death balances for all the decedent’s bank accounts, you should also inquire whether the decedent also had a life insurance policy in force.
Mortgage, credit card, and other loan insurance: Insurance is available to cover the balance due on a mortgage, credit card, or other loans upon the death of the person. Note any reference to such insurance in the decedent’s papers, and ask the holders of any mortgages, credit cards, or other loans if any exist.