Estate Planning

What To Do If Insurance Check Is Made Out To A Deceased Person

Larry Li


On top of mourning and remembering your loved one, there are dozens of tasks you must handle post-death, including insurance payments. 

So what should you do if you receive an insurance check made out to a deceased person?

After a loved one passes away, they may receive insurance checks in their name. However, you can’t directly deposit an insurance check made out to a deceased person, even if you’re entitled to the money. Instead, you should notify the sending party about the deceased loved one and ask them to reissue the check in your name.

In most cases, the money belongs to your loved one’s estate, and you may be able to get the money using a small estate probate procedure. Therefore, the funds must go through the probate process before it passes to you as the beneficiary. 

  • Determining who the insurance check belongs to

  • Does the insurance policy name you as a beneficiary

  • How to claim a life insurance policy

  • Planning ahead with Trustworthy

Who Does the Insurance Check Belong to?

Unfortunately, since the insurance check was made out to your deceased loved one, it doesn’t belong to you. Instead, the executor of your loved one’s estate must go through the probate process and deposit the check into your loved one’s estate account.

Furthermore, all the proceeds from the check must first be applied to your loved one’s final expenses and debts of the estate. Once all your loved one’s assets are liquidated, and debts are settled, the remaining money is distributed to the heirs according to the will or the state’s intestacy laws if there’s no will.

In most cases, the action plan is to contact the sending party and notify them about the death of your loved one. Then, the other party will give you the next steps you need to follow to cash the check into the estate account or your own personal account.

Does the Insurance Policy Name You as a Beneficiary?

If your loved one had life insurance, you might be able to claim their life insurance policy if you are named as a beneficiary. However, the life insurance company won’t automatically pay death benefits from a life insurance policy. Instead, you must file a claim with the life insurance company online or through a paper claims filing.

Nevertheless, finding out if you are a life insurance policy beneficiary is the most important step. If the insured dies before letting you know where to find a copy of their life insurance policy, you won’t have all the necessary information to file a claim and collect your benefits.

The best way to find your loved one’s life insurance policy is to contact the life insurance company. Be prepared to provide your ID and loved one’s death certificate. Then, you can ask them if you are named as a beneficiary. 

How Does Beneficiary Claim a Life Insurance Policy?

Once you verify you’re a beneficiary of your loved one’s life insurance policy, the next step is to file a claim. 

1. Collect Crucial Documents

First, you must gather all the necessary documents. This includes your loved one’s death certificate, the life insurance policy document, and the claim form. 

The certified proof of death prevents fraud and protects the life insurance company. You can request a copy of the death certificate from the funeral home or medical staff who confirmed the time and place of death. You can also get a copy from your local vital records office. 

In addition, the policy document has information about the life insurance policy, such as the beneficiary names and death benefit amount. You can request the policy document from the insurance company or your fallen loved one’s financial advisor.

Lastly, the claim form, also known as “request for benefits”, is where you fill in information about the policyholder. This includes your loved one’s policy number and cause of death. You may also be required to state your relationship with the policyholder and how you would like to be paid once your claim is processed. 

2. Contact the Insurance Company

Once you’ve gathered all the documents, you must contact the insurance company to notify them about the death and file your claim. 

However, there is no time limit regarding when you must file your claim. This means you can collect a death benefit at any time after your loved one passes away as long as their life insurance policy was active when they died. 

Nevertheless, the quicker you file the claim, the sooner you’ll receive the death benefit. 

3. Wait for Claims Processing

After you submit your claim, the life insurance company will verify the policy and relevant information. 

First, the life insurance company will ensure the policy is still active. If your loved one stopped paying premiums or the coverage term expired before the death, you may be out of luck.

Next, an agent will confirm you’re a named beneficiary on the policy. 

You may need to provide proof of identity with your driver's license or passport. It generally takes anywhere from a few days to two months to process a life insurance claim. I recommend checking with the insurance company to determine the timeline, as each company is unique.

4. Receive the Death Benefit

Depending on the life insurance provider and policy, there are multiple ways you can choose to receive your death benefit. However, the two primary options are a lump sum or an annuity.

With a lump sum, you get the entire death benefit in a single payment. 

On the other hand, an annuity is an account where the death benefit gets invested. Then, it pays back an annual installment for a set number of years.

Plan Ahead With Trustworthy

Filing a life insurance claim is not as difficult as it seems, but it can be challenging as you mourn the loss of your cherished loved one. In any case, you can prepare for your family’s future and make the claims process easier in the future with Trustworthy.

Trustworthy is a comprehensive digital storage platform that stores confidential and private information. This includes personal IDs, wills, living trusts, passwords, bank account information, and much more.

In addition, Trustworthy offers secure collaboration tools you can use to share important documents with trusted family members and friends.

For example, you can upload your family member’s life insurance claim onto Trustworthy and keep it secure for when you need to access it in the future.

Trustworthy (Click here to try a 2-week free trial) provides the safest and most convenient way of handling post-death financial affairs, such as claiming a life insurance policy. 

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