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How long after a person dies will beneficiaries be notified?

It depends on the insurer. But it helps to be proactive

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The death of a loved one is an incredibly painful and stressful time. You are likely struggling to process the loss while also trying to manage all the practical arrangements that come with it. Money might be the last thing on your mind when you’re dealing with such a difficult situation.

That said, it can be helpful to understand when you will be notified about a life insurance payout, if you are a loved one’s chosen beneficiary for their life insurance policy. In addition, knowing what to expect helps prepare you for any financial decisions or paperwork that must be taken care of during this emotional time.

This article will explore the timeline of when beneficiaries will typically be notified after a person’s death. Plus, it will provide tips for what to do if you are a beneficiary and how to ensure that the death benefit is distributed correctly.

In this article:

Before a loved one dies: Understanding the policy and your beneficiary status

Losing someone you love is never easy. One of the critical steps in understanding a person’s policy and beneficiary status is to have an open and honest conversation while they are still alive.

This will help ensure that you know what kind of life insurance coverage they have (or if they have any at all). It will also give you information on whether or not you’re one of their beneficiaries, and how much the policy will pay out upon the insured individual’s death.

Most policies require the insured to name a primary beneficiary and potentially a contingent or secondary beneficiary. Depending on your loved one’s wishes, the death benefit might be split among multiple beneficiaries, or only pass to the contingent beneficiary if the primary beneficiary has died.

It’s a good idea to understand precisely how you are listed on the policy, so you understand the financial implications of your loved one’s death. Given you’ll need someone’s policy number and Social Security number to file a life insurance claim, you should also ask for those as well.

What to do after a person dies

Once a policyholder has passed away, beneficiaries typically receive life insurance notification within 90 days of the death. However, this can vary depending on the insurer, and whether they’re able to locate all beneficiaries.

Many states require life insurers to check the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File every year to verify if an insured person has died. (Fun fact: MassMutual, Haven Life’s parent company, checks it every month.) Upon confirmation, the insurer will reach out to the beneficiaries directly or through a legal representative with information about how to collect the death benefit.

That said, if you already know that you’re on the policy, the first step would be to report the death to the insurer by filing a death claim. As mentioned above, make sure you have the policy number and the Social Security number of the insured; if not, you might need to locate the policy documents.

You’ll also need a government-issued death certificate — yep, you get certified on your way into and out of this world — that verifies your loved one has died. (You can usually get a copy from the funeral home or the county clerk’s office.)

If you think you might be the beneficiary on a policy, you can also use the NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator to find out for sure. But be advised that it can take several months to receive confirmation from them.

Gathering required documentation

Once you have reported the death, you’ll gather proof of your identity and bank account information, among other documentation. What you need can vary by state, so make sure to check with local guidelines and the insurer. It is important to submit this information promptly, as delays can significantly impact when you receive the death benefit.

Stay in contact with the insurer

It is important to stay in contact with the insurer throughout the claim process. You may want to check in regularly to verify that they have all the necessary documentation and what the payout timeline looks like. You may also want to make notes each time you contact them. Include the method of contact, date, time, representative’s name, and anything that was said.

One other thing: When you first contact the insurer, you’ll probably be asked a series of questions that might seem intrusive or personal, especially given it’s already a painful time. These questions are designed to assess any concerns related to property laws — for example, if your loved one was ever divorced — but that doesn’t make them any less difficult.

How long will it take to receive a payout?

The timeline for processing a life insurance claim can vary depending on the policy type and the case’s complexity. But today, with digital claim forms and electronic bank transfers, payouts can be completed within a few days. Haven Life strives to pay out all qualifying claims within 24 hours of submission, typically as a lump sum.

A few outstanding factors might contribute to a delay. If your loved one died overseas, for example, it might make getting copies of the death certificate slower or more complicated. If they died during the contestability period, that might also slow things down. And if you go through a third party — sometimes a funeral home will offer assistance — that might also cause a delay.

Monitoring your claim status

The best way to monitor the progress of your life insurance claim is by contacting the insurer directly. Many insurers offer a claims tracking system and other methods of communication that can help you stay up-to-date on the status of your claim.

If there are any issues or delays, it is important to contact the insurer as soon as possible to ensure everything is handled correctly. Following up with the insurer is also a good way to ask questions or address any issues that arise during the claims process.

Claiming death benefits from a life insurance policy might seem like a complicated and time-consuming process, but understanding how it works and taking the necessary steps to ensure everything runs smoothly can help make it easier. By following the steps outlined above and monitoring the status of your claim, you should be able to receive a payout in a timely manner.


Why a policy might not payout

Receiving a life insurance payout after the death of a policyholder can provide much-needed financial support in a difficult time. However, understanding why and when life insurance payments might not occur is just as important.

There are several reasons why a life insurance policy may not pay out. Below are some of the most common:

Non-payment of premiums or policy lapses

A life insurance policy is only valid if the premiums are paid on time. If a policyholder falls behind on payments or stops paying altogether, the policy may lapse. In this case, there will be no death benefit for the beneficiary to claim.

Disputes over the cause of death

In some cases, disputes may arise over the cause of death. For example, if the cause of death is deemed a suicide during the policy’s contestability period — usually the first two years — most insurers will not provide a death benefit. Other instances might include death resulting from activities that violate the policy, such as engaging in risky hobbies. Another is death caused by a pre-existing health condition that was not disclosed during the application process.

Fraud or misrepresentation

Fraud or misrepresentation is another common reason a life insurance policy may not pay out. If any of the information provided on the application was false, or if any of the details have been altered, it could invalidate the policy.

Exclusions and limitations

Some policies may include exclusions or limitations that could prevent the policy from paying out. It is important to read through all the policy details carefully before making a claim to ensure you understand what is included and excluded. Some limitations may include age restrictions, pre-existing conditions, and certain types of deaths.

Claims disputes

Claims disputes can arise for various reasons, including incorrect information on applications or questions surrounding the cause of death. If discrepancies arise, it is important to contact the insurer as soon as possible to ensure everything is handled correctly and that the claim process runs smoothly.

Contestability period

It is important to note that there is a contestability period, typically two years from the policy’s start date, during which an insurer can investigate the details of a claim and deny a payout if fraudulent or incorrect information has been provided on the application. It is important to take this time frame into consideration when making a claim and be aware that it could potentially delay or eliminate the payout.

How to streamline the claims process for quicker payouts

Approaching the claims process with an understanding of what is involved and taking the necessary steps to ensure everything runs smoothly can help speed up the process.

Here are some tips for streamlining the claims process:

Getting professional help

As a beneficiary, understanding the basics of life insurance policies, including policy terms and claims processes, can be a lot to take in. If you ever have any questions, seek help from an insurance specialist.

Or if you’re looking for term life insurance for yourself, our online quote tool is a great place to start.

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About Ashley Franklin

Read more by Ashley Franklin

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit:

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