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Beneficiary Information FAQs

  • You can name any person, estate*, trust**, or organization (like a charity) as a beneficiary—really, you just can’t name yourself.

    Those who rely on you for support will likely be your first choice. When you fill out your policy forms, it’s important you do so carefully so no one can question your beneficiaries’ identity.

    • * “Estate” simply refers to everything you own. This includes physical things like real estate and collectibles, and nonphysical things like stocks and other investments. If you name your estate as your beneficiary, your policy payout will be added to the list of things you own and given out according to instructions you've left behind.

       

    • ** A trust is a legal relationship where you select a person or people to manage your estate according to your instructions. The trust owns your life insurance policy. When you die, the trust collects the payout, pays estate taxes and other expenses that may be due, and pays out money to your beneficiaries—again, based on your instructions. Naming a trust as a beneficiary can give you more control over how payments are given out, reduce estate taxes, help you avoid delays and legal fees, help beneficiaries avoid income and estate taxes, and more.
  • Yes. When adding a new beneficiary to an existing policy, you’ll need to list ALL the beneficiaries you want on the policy when you update your policy online or create your online account.

    In your online account's Policy Overview, find your policy and click the Beneficiaries link to add a new beneficiary to your policy or edit your policy's current beneficiaries.

    Your beneficiary list should always include every beneficiary’s name and the percentage of the payments you want to be assigned to each beneficiary.

  • Naming minor beneficiaries is a good time to involve your own personal or legal advisors. Your advisors can show you how trusts or laws such as Uniform Transfer to Minors Acts can help you provide for minor beneficiaries.

    If you die while your primary beneficiaries are still minors, the money may be given to a representative representative appointed by the court to hold on the minor's behalf. The court will likely choose the minor’s closest living family to be the representative, but they could pick someone else. The representative’s ability to use the payments may or may not be limited by the court, and their actions may not match your wishes for the payments.

  • This is someone who cannot be removed from your policy unless they agree to be removed. You also can’t cancel the policy unless they agree. Since this gives the beneficiary a lot of power, work with your personal advisors to get comfortable with the need to name an irrevocable beneficiary before naming one. 

    To make an irrevocable beneficiary designation, please mark this on the Change of Beneficiary Request Form (requires logging in to your account).

     
  • We’ll mail you a confirmation once your beneficiary changes have been approved and updated on your policy. When you receive this confirmation, please keep it with your policy as a record of receipt. Also, once approved, you can view the update in your online account's Policy Overview; once in your Policy Overviewfind your policy and click the Beneficiaries link.

    Please remember it takes time for us to approve beneficiary changes and to process and mail your confirmation.

     
  • To view and submit a beneficiary update online, Log in to your account, go to Account Overview or Policy Details, and click the Beneficiaries link.

    If you need help with beneficiaries, click on the Chat icon when signed into your online account (chat availability is variable) or give us a call.

  • If you don't see your policy, it may be because you have a type of policy we don't service online. *Please note: Not all policies allow beneficiaries to be updated online.

    Or, in some cases, you may have purchased a policy AFTER you created your online service account. If so, you would need to go to Account Overview and click Find Another Policy to see if other policies can be found using information from your online account.

    In other cases, you may not see your policy because it is not active.

     
  • You won’t be able to see your updated beneficiaries right after you click Submit, but we’ll send an email to confirm that we’ve received your request.

    Once your update is reviewed, approved, and recorded by us, it will show up online.

    After you submit, you can use the link at the top of the confirmation page to print a copy of your beneficiary update request. We’ll also mail this information to your home.

  • Your update goes into effect once it’s approved and recorded by us. After it’s recorded, it will take effect from the day you signed the update. So, if you signed the update on January 3rd and we record it on January 27th, your update is effective as of the 3rd.   
     
  • You don’t have to, but it can’t hurt. Contingent beneficiaries work as backups: they will only receive the payments if none of your primary beneficiaries are alive at the time of your death.
  • Primary beneficiaries are the first in line to receive the payments—usually your spouse, children, or other family members. In case your primary beneficiaries die before you, you can name backups, called contingent beneficiaries. If all your primary beneficiaries are no longer living when you die, your contingent beneficiaries will receive the payments.

  • Some states don’t allow a funeral home to be named as a beneficiary, so check with your attorney for restrictions.
    If it is allowed by your state, know that if a funeral home is listed as your only beneficiary, it's under no obligation to give any remaining payments to your family or estate.

     

  • Making a trust your beneficiary is simple. First, log in to your account, go to Beneficiaries and click Update Beneficiaries Online, in the My beneficiary is... drop-down menu select A Trust. Then complete and save the rest of the form and wait for final confirmation from us. If the trust will be established as part of your Will, when asked to provide the trust’s name in the form, you’ll want to identify it as the “Trust established under the Last Will and Testament of (your name),” dated (date of Will).

     
  • In these cases, the payments will be paid out according to the instructions you’ve stated in your policy/contract.

    If instructions are not stated in the policy/contract, the payments will be paid out to your estate*.

    *“Estate” simply refers to everything you own. This includes physical things like real estate and collectibles, and nonphysical things like stocks and other investments. If you name your estate as your beneficiary, your policy payout will be added to the list of things you own and given out according to instructions you've left behind.

     
  • A disinterested witness is an adult who isn’t the owner, insured, or beneficiary of the policy.

    In Massachusetts, a disinterested witness is required by law to witness you signing the form, and then sign it themselves.

  • If a named beneficiary is no longer living at the time of the insured’s death, the proceeds payable to that beneficiary would be divided between the children of that beneficiary.

    If you wish to designate a beneficiary as per stirpes, please mark this on the Change of Beneficiary Request Form.

  • Anyone can notify us of a death. But only named beneficiaries noted in your policy can submit the necessary documents or evidence to claim the payments.
  • It normally takes 3-5 business days to process a claim once we’ve received the completed claim information from ALL beneficiaries.

    A letter and a statement of values will be mailed to you. If you choose to receive a lump-sum payment by check, it will be mailed separately.

  • It normally takes 1-3 business days to process a life insurance claim and 3-5 business days to process an accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) claim.

    A letter, a statement of values, and the settlement check will be mailed to you.

    1. A certified copy of the death certificate for the policyholder. 

      Why do you need a certified copy of the death certificate AND additional documents to settle the claim? The death certificate confirms the cause and manner of death. The additional information confirms the accident, when and how it happened, and who was involved.

    2. You may need to submit additional documents to settle the claim if the death resulted from one of the accidents below.
    • Motor Vehicle Accident: You’ll need to send the Police Report and the Blood Alcohol Report if the insured was driving.
    • A Fall: In this case, you’ll need to send the Police/Accident/Incident Report or the Attending Physician’s Statement.
    • Prescription overdose: In this situation, you’ll need to send the Police/Accident/Incident Report and a list of the insured’s prescriptions from a doctor or pharmacist.
    • Homicide: You will need to send the Police/Accident/Incident Report.
  • Proof of death of the policyholder. If the beneficiary belongs to any of the four categories below, you’ll need to submit additional documents.

    If the beneficiary is an estate:

    • Letters of Testamentary or Authority issued by the Probate Court showing the name and address of the executor or personal representative of the estate.
    • A valid Tax ID Number for the estate (on your claim form). If you do not have one, call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 to have one created.
    • If the value of the estate does not require a court-ordered review*, you'll need to get a Small Estate Affidavit from the Probate Division of the courthouse in the county where the insured lived.
    * If the value does require a court-ordered review of the deceased's estate, a process known as "probate," a Small Estate Affidavit is not needed.

     

    If the beneficiary is a trust:

    • A copy of the trust agreement. These pages are required: the title page, the appointment of trustees or successor trustees after the death of the insured, and the final page showing the date and witness signatures.
    • A valid Tax ID Number for the trust. If you do not have one, call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 to have one created.

    If the beneficiary is a minor:

    • A Claimant's Statement completed by an adult family member on behalf of the minor. The payments will be placed in an interest-bearing account with CMFG Life Insurance Company until the minor reaches adulthood*.
    • To have the payments released prior to the time the minor reaches adulthood*, copies of the court appointment papers for guardianship or conservatorship for the minor must be received.
    *Adulthood, or the “age of majority,” is the age at which a person is considered a legal adult. This ranges from 18 to 21 in the U.S.

     

    If the beneficiary is deceased:
    • Proof of death of the deceased beneficiary.