Life Insurance Checklist:
When a loved one dies, you must complete a variety of tasks. Shortly after the funeral or memorial service, it is important to take care of certain financial obligations. Taking care of these tasks now will help to avoid delays and confusion that may occur if these tasks are neglected. This life insurance checklist is designed to help you get through the weeks immediately following the death of a loved one.
Obtain certified copies of the death certificate.
The family doctor or medical examiner will supply and sign the death certificate within 24 hours of death and state the cause of death. The remainder of the form is usually completed by the mortuary handling the final affairs and filed with the state registrar. You will need a certified copy of the death certificate every time you apply for benefits or need proof of the death. It is best to get 10 to 15 certified copies, depending on the complexity of the estate. Photocopies will not be accepted.
Obtain certified copies of the marriage certificate.
If you are the spouse, you may need proof of marriage before you can inherit from the estate, existing policies, or investments. You will also need proof of marriage when applying for Social Security benefits. Death and marriage certificates are kept by the state where the death or marriage occurred. Visit www.cdc.gov/nchs for state-by-state information on requesting certified copies of death and marriage certificates.
Contact a Legal Advisor.
Settling an estate can be a complicated affair. When a loved one dies, you should seek legal advice on matters such as:
- Re-recording of property deeds
- Disposition of stocks/bonds, investments, savings and checking accounts, and other assets
- Disbursement of the deceased’s estate
- Disbursement of the insured’s business and estate assets
- Drawing up of a will for the widow or widower
Visit a trust officer and tax attorney.
A local trust officer is an important resource for survivors. This individual is an expert financial advisor who deals in investments, estate settlements, and household finances. A tax attorney or CPA should be consulted if you think that the deceased’s estate might be subject to federal taxation.
Locate any life insurance or accidental death insurance policies.
Be sure to look around for any life insurance policies and/or accidental death insurance policies your loved one may have had. Be sure to contact insurance companies, motor clubs, and your loved one’s employer.
File a life insurance claim.
We know how difficult of a time a loved one’s death can be. If you are filing a claim, we encourage you to reach out to us. If you are the beneficiary, you’ll be facing crucial financial decisions at a time when you may be least prepared to make them. To add to the burden, the amount of money involved may be very large. Feel free to reach out to the licenced agents at Hagaman to help you with filing your life insurance claim. We can offer guidance on pay out distribution options as well as help create a lifetime income stream from the death benefit to protect present and future needs.
In most cases, life insurance companies require only two forms to establish proof of claim: a claimant’s statement and a death certificate or an attending physician’s statement. Companies reserve the right to request further information.
Contact the Social Security office.
You will need to contact the Social Security office to check eligibility for lump-sum benefits and to inquire about monthly benefits. Remember, you must apply for Social Security benefits. They are not automatic. Delays in applying may result in the loss of certain benefits. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov for more information.
When applying for Social Security benefits, you will need:
- A certified copy of the death certificate
- The deceased’s Social Security number
- Approximate earnings of the surviving spouse in the year of death
- Record of deceased’s earnings in the year prior to death (W-2 form or tax return)
- Social Security numbers of the surviving spouse and minor or disabled children (disabled before age 22 and who remain disabled)
- Birth certificates of the surviving spouse and minor or disabled children (disabled before age 22 and who remain disabled)
- Proof of marriage (certified copy of certificate)
- Proof of citizenship
- Picture identification
- Checkbook or bank account number so that benefits can be deposited directly into your account.
Contact the employer for death benefits.
If your loved one was employed at the time of death, contact the employer to check for death benefits. Since most people are covered by group insurance where they work, inquire about the benefit due to you and how to file a claim. Also, ask about pension fund benefits, accrued vacation and sick pay, terminal pay allowances, disability income, and credit union balances. Pay special attention to the deceased’s hospital, surgical, and disability coverage to see whether you and your dependents are still eligible for benefits and, if so, for how long.
Contact other organizations.
Contact unions, service organizations, or professional organizations the deceased belonged to in order to find out whether you are eligible for any benefits.
Alert banks and credit card companies.
Contact your bank or financial institution(s) concerning any individual or joint accounts held in your loved one’s name. This may involve closing the accounts or transferring their control to you, another family member, or your attorney, if you choose. If you have an attorney, he or she may be able to complete this task for you. You will also need to discuss the status of any certificates of deposit, bonds, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), or similar savings accounts. Remember to think about safe-deposit boxes. Alert credit card companies. If you held a joint account with the deceased, the company may want to issue you a new card.
Gather all current bills.
Many installment loans, service contracts, and credit card accounts are covered by credit life insurance, which pays off the account balance in the event of the death of a customer. Make a prompt request for release to each bank in which the deceased and you held a joint account. This is preliminary to your withdrawing funds from that account. Property-casualty insurance policies should be updated to reflect changes in ownership.
Cancel all subscriptions and automatic payments.
If the deceased ordered medications by mail, you should cancel the service. Cancel or change the name on any automatic bill-paying services and magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Any mail addressed to the deceased should be marked “Deceased – Return to Sender” and given to the mail carrier or post office.
Locate other important papers.
Other important things to think about are:
- Business agreements
- Securities certificates
- Real estate deeds
- Automobile registration
- Installment payment books