Protecting Your Beneficiaries

Last updated: March 29, 2016

Tips for Making Sure Your Life Insurance Helps Who You Want It To

You don’t want to go through all of the financial trouble of buying life insurance without making sure the beneficiary will receive the intended benefit. The following suggestions will help protect your beneficiaries:

Name the Beneficiary

Your beneficiary will receive the insurance benefits without taxes. Also, they won’t have to go through the process of having your will recognized and executed.

  •  If you die without naming a beneficiary, the death benefit will go to your estate. It will then be paid out according to your will and/or Kansas laws.

    • This delays the payment and could create a financial hardship for your beneficiary.

Number of Beneficiaries

You may specify as many beneficiaries as you want to receive the benefits. You may also specify how your money and assets are to be divided.

  • It is a good idea to name a contingent beneficiary.

    • They will receive the death benefit in case your primary beneficiary dies before or at the same time as you.

Keep Your Policy in a Safe Place

Do not store the policy in a place where it might be hard to find or access.

  • Record basic information in a separate place.

    • Things like company, policy type, policy number, relevant parties’ names, etc.

  • Let your beneficiary know the kind of insurance policy you have, any changes you make, and where you keep the policy.

A Change in Beneficiary

Unless you have named an irrevocable beneficiary, the beneficiary could be changed after the policy is taken out.

  • An irrevocable beneficiary arrangement can only be changed with the beneficiary’s consent.

  • You or your agent can change your beneficiary by contacting your life insurance company and asking for the appropriate form.

Taxes

As a general rule, your beneficiary does not have to pay any federal income taxes on the proceeds of your policy. But, if proceeds of a policy go to the deceased person’s estate (and the estate's value exceeds a statutory maximum) it will be taxed.

  • There are variations between states, and tax laws are complex. Your agent may have information on the subject. You should always discuss tax matters with your lawyer or accountant.

Lost Policy

Loss of life insurance policy paperwork will not affect your protection in any way.

  • If a policy is lost, destroyed or stolen, ask your agent or contact the company to receive a duplicate.

Filing a Life Claim

Your beneficiary will need to notify the life insurance company of your death. That’s why it's important for your beneficiary to be able to locate your policy.

  • Life insurance companies require legal proof of death and may ask for the policy.

    • Once receiving proper notification of death, the life insurance company will pay the proceeds of the policy to the beneficiary.

This article is published on KansasMoney.gov. Find more information by contacting these state agencies: