Unclaimed Benefits Slip Through the Cracks

Thousands and thousands of dollars of life insurance benefits are floating around unclaimed every year. The difficulty facing many beneficiaries is many don’t even know there are benefits they are entitled to. With the point of your life insurance policy being to take care of your loved ones after your passing or in time of accident or illness you can take action to make sure their benefits don’t go unclaimed.

The number one reason many beneficiaries make a claim is it’s so darn difficult to find something they didn’t even know existed in the first place! Like with so many other things, communication is vital for making sure those benefits get to the right person or people. The majority of lost benefits are unclaimed because the insured is the last person who would use those benefits to pay any final bills; meaning whoever takes over the bills may not know it even exists. Keep your life insurance in mind when creating your Will. Mention it specifically and have your already prepared Will and Testament on file with the insurance company. Detail any information about the beneficiaries in the Will itself and make it very clear what your wishes are for those death benefits in writing in the Will.

If you aren’t already keeping a copy of the insurance policy in a safe place (safety deposit box, fireproof safe) do it now! Even a clearly labeled filing cabinet is better than nothing. All necessary documentation should be clearly labeled (along with the policy number if it isn’t on the documents). Tell your dependents and beneficiaries where the documents are, what you’re doing with them and why it’s so important you’re doing it.

It’s difficult and uncomfortable to talk about death even during the best of times. It isn’t a pleasant subject for anyone. Those reasons are exactly why communication is vital. Avoiding the subject and not talking about what plans you have and what you would like to happen after you’re gone only delays the inevitable and could end up costing your loved ones the ability and resources to make those plans come to fruition. Talk it over with your family, don’t avoid it. If you discuss it beforehand you increase the chances everything is going to happen the way you’ve planned and wanted it to. This includes those life insurance benefits, by the way. If you don’t discuss it with anyone who is going to know what you want?

Even though there are options available to those dependents and beneficiaries who believe they are entitled to some kind of claim, it is communication and the preventative measures you take beforehand which are the best options you have at your disposal to prevent lost time, benefits and effort at a time when the people you care about are suffering the most emotional distress. Communicate clearly with them now through your actions and discussion. Protect them later by communicating with them as clearly as you can through your Last Will and Testament once you’re gone.

Until next time,Michael Hartmann
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