Prepare Today for a Loved One's Passing

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Physician's Money Digest, March15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 5

A time of personal loss can bedevastating emotionally andfinancially. While millions ofAmericans have made providing fortheir families a principal responsibilityby purchasing life insurance, havethey done everything they can tomake sure things will go smoothlywhen they die? Probably not.

In fact, a recent study conductedby Prudential Financial revealed thatmore than 40% of those polled indicatethat they have not discussed, orare not sure if they would be able tofind important life insurance policyinformation on loved ones. And 1 of 5of those who had previously filed adeath claim with an insurance companyfelt it was a difficult process at atime of great sadness.

POLICYHOLDER PLANNING

But there are things policyholderscan do now, and loved ones can dolater, to expedite the payment ofdeath benefits and make a difficulttime in life a little bit easier. As a policyholder,you can prepare your lovedones by taking the following steps:

• Make sure all beneficiary designationsare up-to-date and on filewith your insurer. Failure to do socan slow down the benefits claimprocess and may even force yourinsurer to make the payment to yourestate or to someone other than theperson you intended. Keep in mindthat life events such as marriage,birth, adoption, or death often necessitatea beneficiary change.

• Keep premium payments current.Otherwise, a loved one may receivea reduced benefit, or in theworst cases, no benefit at all.

• Understand your own life insuranceportfolio and share coveragesummaries with selected loved ones.

BENEFICIARY ORGANIZING

As a loved one during a time ofloss, you should know how to expeditethe claims process. The followingare important steps toward pushingthe claims process forward:

• Be prepared with policy information,including policy number(s), addresses of any beneficiaries,and, in most cases, a certifieddeath certificate.

• Ask the insurer if there are otherpolicies covering the deceased beyondwhat you have identified.

• Contact the individual's licensedinsurance professional, financial representative, or personalfinancial advisor.

• Consult the individual's checkbook,bank statements, or creditcard bills for payments made toinsurance companies if you can'tfind policy documentation and don'tknow which company to contact.

Talking about, and dealing with,the issues of death and life insuranceare never easy. But taking simplesteps now and understanding whatyou need to know later can help bothpolicyholders and their loved ones.

Marc S. Levitt, financial advisor, and Louis M. Bell, financial advisor, are a

team at Prudential Securities specializing in financial advisory and investment management

services for individuals, medical practices, foundations, and trusts. They welcome

questions or comments at 212-303-8724, marc_levitt@prusec.com, or louis_bell@prusec.com. E-mail cannot be used for

trade instructions or anything requiring your signature. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.