After losing a parent, it can be difficult to focus on routine tasks such as finding paperwork, but locating insurance documents can be crucial when it comes to paying for funeral expenses and other end-of-life costs. To cash in on a policy, you’ll need to know what company provides the plan. Unfortunately, you may not know where to find the policy information. If you’re trying to figure out how to find the life insurance policies of a deceased parent and whether you’ve been named a beneficiary, there are a few simple places to start.
How Can I Determine If There's a Life Insurance Policy in My Name?
Although children are often named as beneficiaries of their parents’ death benefits, family relationships can be complex, leaving individuals unsure whether they're eligible for a payout. The best way to find out if your parent named you as a beneficiary is to ask while they’re alive. If your parent is deceased, you should locate policy documents or contact the insurance company to determine who the policy's beneficiaries are.
How Can I Find Life Insurance Policies of a Deceased Parent?
After a death, many adult children are left wondering how to find the life insurance policies of a deceased parent. You should approach your search methodically until you find the documents you need, starting with these basic tasks.
Check Your Parent’s Documents
Many people store important documents in a safe place in their home. If you know where your parents kept important documents such as birth certificates and mortgage deeds, that’s a good place to start looking for clues to a missing life insurance policy. If you aren’t sure where your parents stashed their paperwork, try the following places:
- Fire or wall safes
- Bank deposit boxes
- Filing cabinets
- Dresser drawers
- Under-bed storage containers
Contact Those in the Know
You may not know if your parent had a life insurance policy, but someone undoubtedly does. A few phone calls may be all it takes to find the information you’re looking for. The following individuals may be able to help you uncover policy specifics:
- Accountants, investment advisors, estate planners and other financial professionals: If your parents sought financial advice, the professional they worked with may be able to provide details about any life insurance policies.
- Insurance agents and brokers: If your parents worked with an insurance agent or broker, these professionals will likely know about any insurance policies that were purchased. Even if the only agent you know of is the one they used for auto or home insurance, it’s worth a try.
- Former employers: Your parent may have purchased a life insurance policy through the workplace. If so, former employers may be able to provide copies of relevant records. It’s also worth checking with your other parent’s former employers for records of spousal life insurance policies.
- Industry organizations: If your parent belonged to a union, a fraternal organization or another professional membership group, reach out to their benefits department. Many of these groups offer perks, including life insurance, to members, and records of purchase should be on file at their administrative offices.
By looking through your parent’s phone book, you can often find contact information for the financial and insurance professionals they worked with. You may even turn up the name of the insurance carrier there.
Look at Bank Statements
If your parent was still paying premiums on their life insurance policy, you may be able to find records of checks or electronic payments in their recent bank statements. If the premium has been paid in full, you may need to access older records. A banker at your local branch or a telephone representative should be able to help with your search.
Check Tax Returns
If you can locate your parent’s tax returns, you may be able to find basic policy information there. In certain circumstances, tax returns may include distributions that can lead you to the company that wrote the policy.
Watch the Mail
If locating the policy information isn’t an urgent matter, watching your parent’s mail may net you the information you need. If your parent was still paying monthly premiums for the policy, they may receive bills through the postal service. Your parent’s life insurance carrier may also send other information by mail, including annual statements or dividend notices.
If you can access your parent’s email, check there for correspondence from the life insurance company. Many policyholders opt for paperless premium notices, choosing to receive bills via email. Plus, the issuing company may send out monthly newsletters or other general-interest correspondence that can provide clues to a missing policy.
Although wading through months’ worth of emails can be cumbersome, most email hosts provide search options to simplify the task. Try using keywords such as “life insurance” or “insurance policy” to streamline your search.
If your parent was tech savvy, you may also want to check their saved computer files for digital copies of documents. Using keywords such as “life insurance” or “important documents” to search may lead you to relevant information.
Search Through State Insurance Departments
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners maintains a policy locator system that can connect you with the appropriate state insurance department representatives. These individuals can potentially identify any companies that provided life insurance for your parent.
Check for Unclaimed Property
When a life insurance company attempts to pay out on a policy but can’t find the beneficiaries, it’s obligated to turn this unclaimed property over to the state in which the policy was purchased. If you think this may have happened, you can visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, which helps connect individuals with unclaimed property that may belong to them.
Hire a Private Searcher
If you know your parent had a life insurance policy, but you just can’t find the information, a private search company may be able to help. For a fee, these agencies reach out to insurance carriers on your behalf to find policies your parent may have purchased and maintained.
Are Life Insurance Policies Public Record?
Life insurance policies aren’t typically public record. Because they’re paid out to a designated beneficiary, they don’t need to go through probate, which would make them a matter of public record.
What Are the Benefits of Planning Early?
After a sudden death, many beneficiaries are left wondering how to find life insurance policies of a deceased parent. It's a situation that can be easily avoided by having the right conversations while your parents are alive. Although topics surrounding the death of a loved one can be tough to talk about, asking your parents about their life insurance policies and finding out where they keep important plan-related documents can save you a lot of trouble in the future.