FAQs for beneficiaries and executors.

Important information to help you after the death of a loved one.




  1. How do I report a death?

    If your loved one was insured with New York Life, you can begin the claim process online. Go to the Report a death page. You can also contact your New York Life agent or contact a local agent to provide support and assist you during this difficult time.

    If the policy is with another insurance company, go that company’s website or contact their policyholder services area directly.

  2. What about work-related or Social Security benefits?

    For work-related benefits, visit the deceased’s employer’s human resources department. Since some people are covered by group insurance where they work, inquire about any benefit that may be due to you and how to file a claim. Also, ask about pension fund benefits, accrued vacation and sick pay, terminal pay allowances, disability income, and credit union balances. Pay special attention to the deceased’s hospital, surgical, and disability coverages, to see whether you and your dependents are still eligible for benefits and, if so, for how long.

    Notify the Social Security Administration of the death. If the deceased was covered under Social Security, you may be eligible for a lump-sum death benefit. If you’re a spouse, you must have been married for at least nine months before your spouse’s death to be eligible for benefits, unless his or her death was the result of an accident or military service.

    To apply for Social Security benefits, you will need the Social Security number of the beneficiary and the deceased, the death and marriage certificates, if applicable, and the bank account number of the beneficiary.

    Contact the Veteran’s Administration. If the deceased served in the military, he or she may be eligible for a veteran’s burial in a state or national cemetery, funeral costs reimbursements, life insurance proceeds, and even funeral honors. The military funeral honors homepage is www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil. For more information, contact your local VA office.

    Contact organizations to find out whether you are eligible for any benefits. Many such groups (unions, service organizations, or professional organizations) offer life insurance policies at group rates.

  3. As a beneficiary, can I transfer IRA funds into my own accounts?

    The only beneficiary that can do this is a surviving spouse.

  4. What do I do if I don’t want the inheritance?

    Once you have been informed of your interest in the deceased’s estate, you should think about whether you want to accept the inheritance or disclaim it. Disclaiming the inheritance means you are waiving your right to it. Find out from the executor exactly how long you have to decide, because there is a time limit for disclaiming.

  1. What is the job of the executor?

    The executor is the personal representative of the deceased. The executor is named in the will and is in charge of settling the decedent’s estate. Responsibilities include managing financial obligations like tax payment and collecting unpaid benefits, salary and commissions. The executor is also in charge of handling the transfer and distribution of assets.

  2. What is a probate estate?

    The probate estate is made up of any assets that are registered in the individual name of the deceased that do not have a beneficiary. Such assets include cash, real estate, personal property and investments. They are controlled by the will and pass through the probate transfer process.

  3. What kinds of documents do I need?

    The most recent copy of the will is the most important document. You’ll also want to locate trusts, insurance policies, deeds and titles. Bank statements and records of all accounts or contracts can also be useful. The decedent’s Social Security number, account numbers and death certificate are all important as well.

Consult an Agent:

At no charge to you, a New York Life Agent—professionally trained and experienced—can help you analyze your needs and recommend appropriate solutions through insurance and financial products and concepts. Request a no-obligation review with a New York Life Agent.

New York Life Insurance and Annuity Company does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal or accounting professional before making any decisions.

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