Claiming Life Insurance Benefits

Life insurance is the ultimate safety net for your family. The first step that your personal representative (executor) should take is to file a claim for the benefits.


With any luck, you’re already aware of the deceased’s life insurance policy and where it’s located. Ideally, it will be stored safely in a metal filing cabinet or fireproof lockbox.

And don’t forget to check for other policies. Travel accident insurance, if applicable, Social Security survivor benefits, or military benefits may be in place and available.


You’ll need a certified copy of the person’s death certificate to file the insurance claim — and just about everything else you’ll need to do. Usually, there is a small fee for this. Also, request a claim form from the insurance agent or company and complete it.


There may be several options to receive benefits. Most likely, choices will include regular installments or a lump sum, which may be a good option if you need to pay immediate expenses. Generally, life insurance proceeds aren’t taxable.

What to Consider When Purchasing Life Insurance

What if the unthinkable happens? Ensuring loved ones are financially secure when you are no longer here to provide for them means choosing the right life insurance policy.


Term policies pay out a specific death benefit and remain in effect for a set period. Term life insurance can typically be purchased for a 5- to 30-year term.

On the other hand, permanent life insurance stays in effect over the course of your life—often to age 100. Whole life, variable life, and universal life are all types of permanent insurance.


Several factors come into play when calculating how much your life insurance policy will cost. Some of these include your age, overall health and life expectancy.

You may not need as much coverage if you’ve already built a sizable nest egg and don’t have much debt. On the other hand, if you have a family you’ll need enough insurance to help provide for them financially for the long term.