If you have paid life insurance premiums for years, the last thing you want to happen is for the insurance company to receive a windfall after your death instead of paying out to your beneficiaries. However, if your beneficiaries do not know about the policy, they will not know to make a claim. For this reason, part of your estate plan should include some way of letting your beneficiaries know about your life insurance policy.
New York’s Department of Financial Services strongly encourages insurers to check their unpaid premiums databases against the Social Security Administration’s records in an attempt to find unclaimed life insurance benefits that should be paid out. However, it might take months or even years for the insurance company to notice that you have passed away and that it needs to locate your beneficiaries. In the meantime, your spouse and children will not have the benefit of the life insurance policy you paid for.
You should reference all of your life insurance policies somewhere in your overall estate plan documents so that the people who need to know can tell your beneficiaries where to make a claim. It is also a good idea to store the policy information in the same place that you keep your other estate plan documents. At a minimum, make sure that your will’s executor will know about the life insurance policies as quickly as possible.