Annuity common questions
What documents are required when a claim for death benefits is being filed?
- Original annuity contract, if available
- A certified copy of the death certificate, unless otherwise noted
- Completed Claim to Annuity Benefits form (required by all beneficiaries listed on the contract) and
- Any additional claim form that is required for the payment option you have selected.
How will I receive the annuity proceeds?
We encourage you to read the contract, to determine the death benefit payment options that may be available to you. If you cannot locate the contract or you are still unsure as to your choices, locate the beneficiary customer service telephone number(s) relevant to your situation to determine your eligibility for any option. Depending on the terms of the contract, your options may include:
- A periodic annuity payment plan (a continuous stream of income);
- A lump sum; or
- A combination of options in order to meet your needs.
- The Contract owner may have chosen the death benefit payment option for you.
- Based on your status, certain options may not be available to you.
- Not all options are available in connection with all products.
You should also check with your tax advisor to determine the potential tax implications of your options before your choosing.
Where can I obtain a death certificate?Death certificates may be obtained either through the funeral director or from the County Clerk's office. You may also consult the National Center for Health Statistics website for assistance.
Is more than one original death certificate required if there are multiple beneficiaries and/or multiple contracts administered by Equitable or its affiliates?No. We require one original death certificate (a copy of the death certificate may be accepted in some instances) for a claim regardless of the product or the number of beneficiaries. If there are multiple Equitable contracts, you may submit a copy of the death certificate with a statement indicating which department has the original.
If the beneficiary is a minor and no custodian has been appointed by the contract owner, what requirements are needed?Each state has specific rules related to payment of funds to a minor depending on the amount. A court-approved legal guardianship/conservatorship document may be required when the death benefit amount exceeds certain amounts. Please contact the Customer service area for specific rules that apply to your situation.
If an individual is signing as Attorney-in-Fact on behalf of a beneficiary (on the basis of a Power of Attorney), what requirements are needed?A copy of the Power of Attorney completed and signed by the beneficiary and signed by the individual as Attorney-in-Fact may be required. In some instances, an accompanying declaration of Attorney-in-Fact may also be required.
Can a contract continue upon the death of the annuitant?For some contracts, where the owner and annuitant are the same individual and the only designated beneficiary is the individual's spouse, the spouse may continue the contract. Please contact the Customer service area for information regarding your particular circumstances.
Are there additional requirements if an annuitant or owner dies in a foreign country?Any death of an annuitant or owner in a foreign country could extend the claim processing time. Please submit an original death certificate with a State Department of a US Citizen abroad form. If the death certificate is in a different language, please provide us with the translation.
Are annuity death benefit payments taxable and if so, how are they taxed?
Annuity death benefits payments may be fully or partially taxable as "ordinary" income (and not capital gain income), depending on the type of contract (nonqualified or qualified type, such as IRA or Tax Sheltered Annuity) and whether the owner or annuitant made after-tax contributions. Depending on the payment option elected, this income may be includable in the year of distribution or tax may be payable over a period of time. Also, annuity death benefit payments may be subject to estate or inheritance taxes, which vary by jurisdiction.
To determine the annuity death benefit payment options that are available to you, we recommend that you check with the Financial Professional assigned to the contract, talk to an Equitable Advisors financial professional or locate the beneficiary Customer service telephone number(s) relevant to your situation. You should then check with your tax advisor to determine the potential tax implications of your options before choosing.
What additional requirements are needed when the beneficiary is not a named individual?
Generally, documents that indicate the individual's authority to act on behalf of the entity may be required. For example, the following documents and information may be requested if the beneficiary is one of the types below:
Trust - Requested documentation may include the trust document, including title, appointment and signature pages and any amendments naming the successor trustee. The Trustee(s) should also complete the Claim to Annuity Benefits and Payment Option forms on behalf of the Trust, including the Taxpayer Identification Number. The Taxpayer Identification Number is not the Social Security Number of the deceased, trustee, or executor. If the trust is a testamentary trust, the probated Last Will & Testament may also be requested.
Estate - Requested documentation may include Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. The executor or personal representative should also complete the Claim to Annuity Benefits and Payment Option forms on behalf of the Estate, including the Estate's Taxpayer Identification Number. The Taxpayer Identification Number is not the Social Security Number of the deceased, executor, or personal representative.
Charitable Organizations - Requested documentation may include Board Resolution or By-Laws conferring authorization on signee.
Beneficiary Designated under a Will - Requested documentation may include probated copy of the Last Will & Testament.
Unidentified Children of Annuitant - Requested documentation may include Affidavit of Children completed by someone who is knowledgeable of the decedents family. The form must be notarized.
What should I do if I have additional questions?Contact the Financial Professional assigned to the contract, talk to a financial professional or locate the beneficiary Customer service telephone number(s) relevant to your situation.
Please be advised that this material is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this material is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.
Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company, Equitable Life Insurance Company of America and U.S. Financial Life Insurance Company do not provide tax or legal advice. You should seek the guidance of your tax and legal advisors regarding your own situation.