Texas Department of Insurance can clear up beneficiary questions

If someone in Texas has wisely worked with an attorney to plan for what happens in the event of death, his or her heirs will have clear guidance about what they will receive, as well as to what the individual’s estate includes. Sometimes, however, it is not entirely clear who is supposed to get what or even what comprises the loved one’s estate. When someone has failed to create an estate plan, individuals who think they may be beneficiaries of a life insurance plan may wish to consult the Texas Department of Insurance.

The department has recently launched a new program called the Life Policy Locator Service, which helps individuals determine whether they are beneficiaries of someone’s life insurance policy or annuity. The program is currently only working with Texas insurance companies, but it could spread to other states if it is successful.

If someone believes he or she should have gotten some or all of the benefits from a life insurance policy when a friend or family member died, he or she can fill out a search request form off of the Texas Department of Insurance’s website. Within 30 days, the department will respond with any relevant information. Currently, there are 28 insurance companies participating.

One sign that there may be a life insurance policy to look into are regular payments to life insurance companies. Moreover, many people purchase life insurance through their work, so contacting an individuals’ employer after his or her death may uncover some information.

Granted, the best way to avoid this hassle is to encourage all family members to carefully create an estate plan that clearly lays out who is to receive what in the event of death.

Source:Times Record News, “Think you’re an heir? Ask the state,” Oct. 24, 2013