Q. My mom passed away four years ago. Her six children were named in her will. Prior to her passing, her house and paperwork were disrupted and papers were missing. I was the executrix and was led to believe she had a substantial insurance policy which never surfaced. What can I do?
— Confused heir
A. Following up on paperwork after someone dies can be a challenge, especially when documents you expect to have are nowhere to be found.
You didn’t say if you knew which life insurance company you thought your mom did business with.
If you do, you can start by calling the company to ask questions, said Yale Hauptman, an estate planning attorney with Hauptman and Hauptman in Livingston.
“They would likely confirm whether the policy exists or not,” he said. ”If you are not a beneficiary, however, they won’t tell you who is.”
But you can still do some research.
Hauptman said the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a national life insurance policy locator service for no charge.
You mention that some of your mom’s papers were “disrupted.”
“If your thought is that one of your siblings may have taken the policy and then filed a death claim and kept the money that is meant for you, I doubt it,” Hauptman said. ”The insurance company will only pay the named beneficiary.”
So if you are a beneficiary then the policy – or at least the part of the proceeds to which you are entitled – will remain unclaimed, he said.
If the insurance company is aware of your mom’s passing and the proceeds remain unclaimed then eventually they must turn over the proceeds to the state’s unsatisfied claim fund. You can check that here.
If one of your siblings received a policy’s death benefit, despite the fact this may conflict with what your mom may have told you, this policy was rightfully paid to that sibling, Hauptman said.
He shared one final thought.
“If a policy does not have any beneficiary on file or all beneficiaries have died, the default in that case is usually the estate,” he said. ”In that case, since you were the executrix, the policy would be payable to you as executrix. Again, your siblings would be unable to collect the proceeds.”
Email your questions to moc.p1529363557leHye1529363557noMJN1529363557@ksA1529363557.