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How can I find out whether my deceased husband owned any life insurance?

If your husband left a letter of instruction, read it carefully. It may help you determine whether he had life insurance. A letter of instruction is simply a letter written by or on behalf of the deceased. It enables a surviving spouse or other person to locate important documents such as bank accounts, life insurance policies, safe deposits, or collectibles.

If your husband died without such a letter and you are trying to discover whether he had life insurance, there are several things you can do:

  • Contact any family members whom your husband may have confided in. They may know if he had life insurance and from whom it was purchased.
  • Ask your husband's lawyer, estate executor, banker, accountant, or financial planner whether they know of a life insurance policy.
  • Talk to your husband's auto and home insurance agents. Often, consumers purchase one or more insurance products through the same agent. They may have sold your husband a policy or referred him to someone who did.
  • Has your husband's estate been probated? If it has, check the court records for details of the estate. Sometimes, the life insurance policy will show up as an asset.
  • Did your husband have group life insurance through an employer? Speak to his former employers to make this determination.
  • Perhaps your husband had a safe-deposit box. You may want to contact some of your local banks to see if there is a safe-deposit box account in your husband's name.
  • Look at any canceled checks, bank accounts, and credit card statements to see if your husband made any premium payments to an insurance company. Next, follow up with each company to see what the payment was for.

Remember, the insurance company is not obliged to notify you about the life insurance policy even if you are the spouse. Typically, the insurance company does nothing until someone notifies it and files a death benefit claim. This is usually done by the owner (if not the insured), the beneficiary, or the estate of the insured.

Although the above is no guarantee of success, some investigation will give you at least a chance of locating an existing policy.