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After a policy holder dies, it is important to contact insurance companies to see whether a claim should be paid. Types of claims can include:

  • Life insurance payout
  • Refund of unused premiums
  • Indemnities

Typically assets with a beneficiary designation are not probate assets and should be paid to the person named as beneficiary. In some cases, third parties may refuse to discuss the policy or account unless a probate estate is opened. Unless there are other probate assets which justify opening an estate, then paying to open a probate estate is likely unnecessary if you can get through to someone with authority to speak with the beneficiary. A letter similar to the following might help identify the beneficiary who can then file a claim:


[Exemplar letter to insurance companies]
Phone number
[Insurance Company Name
Re:[Name of Insured/Deceased; Policy No. ____]
Dear Sir or Madam,
My name is _____ and I am the named Executor in [Decedent’s] Will, copy attached. [Decedent] is now deceased and we are trying to determine whether it is necessary to probate [his/her] estate.* It is our understanding that you issued a policy of insurance on [Decedent’s] life and that if there is a named beneficiary, then the policy is not part of her probate estate so hiring lawyers is unnecessary. With that above in mind, I am asking whether the above policy was a life policy, whether it was in effect at the time of[Decedent’s] death, and if there is a named beneficiary, who is the named beneficiary? If the policy lapsed, then we are requesting information regarding when it lapsed and the reason for its lapse.
If you cannot discuss this matter with us, then we are asking you to contact the beneficiary directly and let [him/her] know how to file a claim.
I can be reached at the address and phone number listed above if you have questions. Also enclosed for your reference is a copy [Decedent’s] death certificate.
[*Alternative if claiming a refund:
_____ died on ____ and we are asking whether there are any unearned premiums that will be returned to the Estate (or indemnities from hospitalization policies)]

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