Articles Posted in life insurance

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shutterstock_110867483 (1)Consumer Reports estimates that at least $1 billion in benefits from forgotten life insurance policies are waiting to be claimed. Often, when I meet with adult children administering a trust after the death of a parent, they’re not certain about whether not that parent had life insurance policies. And many veterans of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War left behind policies that they purchased while on active duty through the Veterans Administration.

I realize that I’m stating the obvious here, but you can’t make a claim on policies that you don’t know exist. And generally speaking, life insurance companies aren’t going to go out of their way to notify potential claimants of policies waiting to be claimed, although several of the largest ones have agreed to search for deceased policy holders more diligently: AIG, Forethought, John Hancock, MetLife, Nationwide, and Prudential.

Unfortunately, only 10 states have centralized databases of insurance policies issued in their state, and California isn’t one of them. (They are Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont).

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landing-60527_150On Monday we celebrate Memorial Day, and that seems like a perfect occasion to write about something that many people may not know about until their loved one dies: life insurance policies that date back to World War II or the Korean War.

Did you know that the U.S. government issued over 22 million life insurance policies to service members between 1940 and 1951? These policies were for $10,000 and were either permanent or renewable. Today, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, there are over 950,000 of these policies still in force, and the average age of the policyholders is 81 years old.

The government began issuing life insurance policies to service members back in 1917 because commercial insurance providers either didn’t want to cover soldiers going off to World War I or charged too much to do it. (Which makes me think that their underwriters had a pretty good idea of what that war was like.)

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Lately, I’ve had a lot of questions from clients about life insurance policies and who to name as beneficiaries. Here’s what I tell most people to do:

Name YOUR TRUST as the beneficiary (if you have a trust)


Name YOUR SPOUSE as the beneficiary (if you don’t have a trust, but do have a spouse)