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You might be entitled to unclaimed life insurance money

Those who are diligent with their estate planning likely have taken out a life insurance policy. When they pass away, this money is bestowed on an heir - or at least, it should be.

The noble effort of taking out a life insurance policy to ensure the fiscal health of heirs upon one's death is all for naught when the money is not claimed. Surprisingly, roughly 25 percent of all life insurance policies go unclaimed after the policyholder passes away, according to the CEO of an end-of-life planning firm.

In fact, in Florida alone, the state settled with MetLife because it was found that the insurance giant did not pay 15,000 families a combined total of $9 million it owed in benefits. Holders of life insurance policies and their beneficiaries need to be proactive and make sure that the money they are owed makes it into their bank accounts.

For starters, a policyholder needs to clearly communicate to beneficiaries that the policy exists and that they are in line to receive the money. Giving beneficiaries documentation - at the very least, a policy number - will help them remain conscious of the policy. Beneficiaries must keep this information in a safe place where they will be able to find it. These materials can now be stored virtually, so they will not get lost or damaged.

Policyholders also need to make sure that information the insurance company has for them is accurate, which can be done in a number of ways. This information is available for free with Medical Information Bureau Reports, which tracks individually underwritten life and health insurance policies that were taken out in the previous seven years.

Anyone who thinks that money floating around in limbo might be intended for them can contact either the insurance company to check, or the unclaimed property division in their state.

Money is specifically earmarked for loved ones through a life insurance policy. Policyholders and beneficiaries must work to ensure it reaches its intended target.

Source: MarketWatch.com, "What good is life insurance if no one collects?" Jennifer Openshaw, Feb. 20, 2013

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