As I mentioned a few weeks back, updating your beneficiaries on your policies is an important part of owning life insurance. How often you should do these updates is up to you, but in a perfect world we would have a reminder.
When we change our clocks those two nights of the year, we're also reminded to check the batteries in our smoke detectors. What a great way to take care of the important task that could save the lives of your loved ones. And doing the "maintenance" on your life insurance policy is just as important to your family.
I recommend you pick a day, say Independence Day for instance, to review your life policies. By taking a few minutes you may realize that your the person you originally chose to get your death benefit is no longer in the picture. As our lives change from marriage, divorce and death, so do the people and situations that can impact your family upon your death.
My father passed away last year and we eventually found a few life policies. Unfortunately, none of the beneficiaries were up to date, leaving us in a position where the insurance company had to pay the benefits into my dad's estate, instead of paying directly to his heirs.
One of the advantages of life insurance over leaving directives in a will is that the policy is a contract in the eyes of the law, thus taking precedent over a will. However, if the beneficiaries have predeceased the insured, you may have to wait for those proceeds.
While checking your life insurance policies, you may as well check all of your other policies as well. Many non-life policies also have beneficiaries that you may have forgotten about. Have a cancer plan through work? It's probably got a beneficiary. These types of policies, called worksite, voluntary or ancillary products, pay you a benefit directly, but if you die in the middle of medical treatments, the policy will pay any leftover proceeds to whomever you name.
I had a client in North Carolina who was in an accident and was eligible for benefits as he was in the hospital. Unfortunately he died a few days later and his family didn't realize there was an accidental death benefit until I mentioned it to them. The policy also paid his beneficiary for the other benefits while he was receiving treatment.
Just like you do maintenance on your car or home, take the time to do a quick check up on your policies, or ask us to take a look at them for you with no obligation. In the meantime, please stay healthy.
Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, helping people find affordable life and disability insurance coverage. He's also is a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient and has spoken to professional and civic organizations throughout the Southeast. And please subscribe to this blog!