March 7, 2006 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Is there an easy way to find out if a deceased relative had a life insurance policy?

A friend of mine's father died a few years ago. The friend's brother, who was the executor of the will, was convicted of embezzlement around the same time. The will that was used was suspiciously "found" at the eleventh hour and usurped an older will. The new will didn't mention any life insurance. My friend suspects his criminal brother has pulled a fast one on the rest of the siblings.

Is there any reasonably convenient way to find out if the dad had any life insurance? The suspected brother has destroyed all his father's paperwork. I'm thinking this sort of thing must happen all the time: someone dies, perhaps with no will, and the spouse doesn't necessarily know about the deceased's insurance policies.

The obvious advice I suppose is to see a lawyer, but my friend is broke and would sure like to do a quick check before getting a lawyer involved. Thanks in advance for any help.
posted by iconjack to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Per this website, no, it's not easy. Apparently there's no central registry.

Another page of tips on finding policies.

Of course, he might find the policy to discover he's not the designated beneficiary. Also, one possible reason that any extant policy wasn't mentioned in the will is that one doesn't change the beneficiary of a life insurance policy in a will--the beneficiary designation form of the policy overrides a will. Any beneficiary changes would have been through the life insurance company, not through a will (shady 11th hour will or not).
posted by neda at 7:43 PM on March 7, 2006

If you are in the US, check the web site of your state's insurance commission. Louisiana maintains a database containing electronic contact information for all life insurance companies that have policies in force in the state. It allows any member of the immediate family of a deceased person to file a request with the Department of Insurance, which in turn submits the information to all of the insurance companies. If your state provides this service, be prepared for lots of mail from insurance companies saying that they reviewed their records and did not find any policies, etc. Regardless of life insurance proceeds, it might still be worth contacting an attorney about challenging the veracity of the 11th hour will.
posted by ajr at 8:15 PM on March 7, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for these tips. I've printed out the advice given on neda's links and will pass them along. I couldn't find a Texas database similar to the Louisianna one ajr pointed out, unfortunately.
posted by iconjack at 8:53 PM on March 7, 2006

That stinks, but I'm glad to see that Louisiana is actually ahead of Texas in at least one area of government service. Regardless, this page links to the top 40 life insurance policy writers in Texas. It probably wouldn't hurt to write all of them.
posted by ajr at 7:21 AM on March 8, 2006

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