Real Life - Claiming life insurance

June 4, 2024
minute read

My experience of finding and claiming for a deceased relatives life insurance was very specific to my situation, however it should give you an idea of the pitfalls and what to be mindful of when purchasing a life insurance.

When my uncle died I was doing his probate, taking over the power of attorney he had for my aunt and dealing with her care. The first thing I did when I found out of his passing was go through the document he prepared to see what assets, accounts and bills I needed to be aware of. It soon became clear that very little detail was documented. Although there were some passwords and account details there was not  a digital store. My uncle had died relatively quickly within a 6 week illness and those weeks were in hospital undergoing harrowing treatment, and sorting out you paperwork is the last thing on your mind.

Put your Insurance detail in safe, secure place but accessible to those you trust.

I mention all of this as finding his life insurance document could easily have been missed. I went through his filing cabinet and went through every detail and found a policy he had taken out over 29 years ago, it was about to expire in 4 months and then would not have been payable. The total payout was £100,000 and it was also in a trust, which meant I didn't need to wait for probate to start the process.

Place in a trust if you want your beneficiary to be able to access funds before probate and not be liable for inheritance tax.

In my case there was no dispute with the claim and it was verbally approved as soon as I sent through the death certificate. In return I got the instructions for payment, this seemed relatively straightforward but the paperwork needed from the trustees, both in different ends of the country and both lacking basic technology skills made this more complex. A simple form being filled, took 3 or 4 months as it was rejected firstly as the bank details needed to be the trustees not the recipient, this was not clear on the form or explained on the phone and therefore felt like a stalling tactic. The money was transferred reasonably promptly once all the relevant paperwork had been acquired, so although this was afrustratingly long experience you need to be persistent.

Takeaways for when you set up your own life insurance?
  1. Make sure your Executor or trustee knows about your life insurance details through your will or digital store
  2. Appoint trustees, you not only trust, but that are well organised and digital savvy
  3. Ensure that an executor/trustees have the time and inclination to spend on these things, as they will usually not be the beneficiary.
  4. Be persistent, insurance companies will not chase you so the onus is on the executor/trustees to do this.
  5. Ask many questions about the process at the beginning, the paperwork is not always simple or straightforward.


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