Life Insurance Common Questions

  • What documents are required when a claim for death benefits is being filed?
    • Original life insurance policy, if available
    • A certified copy of the death certificate, unless otherwise noted
    • Certificates of appointment (if you are filing as executor, administrator, or in any other fiduciary capacity)
    • Completed Death Claim forms
  • How will I receive the insurance proceeds?

    Because every individual has unique needs and goals, we offer a variety of options to help you reach them. You may either:

    • Receive all your benefits in a lump sum
    • Establish an Access Account if you qualify (interest bearing checking account)
    • Select a special payment plan, which offers several options for your long-term financial objectives
    • In some cases, a payment method has been chosen for you by the policyholder.
    • We recommend that you check with your Financial Professional, Talk to an Equitable financial professional or contact the support area applicable to your situation if additional guidance is needed. You should also check with a tax advisor to determine the tax implications of an option before choosing.
  • Do I have to pay taxes on the death benefit?
    Generally, proceeds paid to a beneficiary on a life insurance policy are income tax free, although certain exceptions may apply. We may report interest paid on the life insurance proceeds as taxable income.
  • Where can I obtain a death certificate?
    Death certificates may be obtained from either the funeral director or the County Clerk's office. You may also consult the National Center for Health Statistics website at for assistance.
  • If there are multiple beneficiaries with multiple policies, administered by Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company or its affiliates, is a death certificate required from each beneficiary?
    We do not require multiple death certificates for a claim regardless of the product or the number of beneficiaries.
  • What if the primary beneficiary has predeceased the insured?

    In most instances, if the designated beneficiary does not survive the insured, then the proceeds become payable to the contingent beneficiary. If there is no surviving contingent beneficiary, payment would then be determined by the terms of the policy. Please read the applicable provisions of the policy. If the designated beneficiary survives the insured, but dies before the claim is made, the proceeds may be payable to the designated beneficiary's estate.

    For further information contact the Customer Service area applicable to your situation.

  • When should the beneficiary expect the payment, if an Insured died in a foreign country?
    Any death of an Insured in a foreign country requires special handling that could extend the claim processing time. Please submit an original death certificate with a State Department Death of a US Citizen Abroad Form If the death certificate is in a different language, please provide us with the translation.
  • If the beneficiary is a minor, what requirements are needed?
    Each state has limitations related to payment of funds to a minor depending on the amount. A court-appointed legal guardianship/conservatorship document is required when the death benefit amount exceeds the state amount. The age of majority for most states is 18.
  • If the beneficiary has appointed an Attorney-In-Fact under a Power of Attorney, or had a Guardian/Conservator appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction, do I need to submit proof?
    If an Attorney-In-Fact or a Guardian/Conservator is signing on behalf of the beneficiary, we will require copies of appropriate supporting documentation
  • If the beneficiary is a corporation, does an officer need to sign with his/her designation?
    Yes, an officer from the company needs to sign with his/her designation. In addition, we generally require documentation evidencing his/her authority to sign on behalf of the corporation.
  • If a trust is the beneficiary, do I have to send in trust documents?
    Copies of the trust documents allow us to confirm the existence of the trust, and to verify the trustee or the successor trustee and the trust date. In addition, this will enable us to ensure that payment is made accurately and will be accepted by your financial institution. In lieu of trust documents, a certificate of trust is acceptable.
  • What if the trust no longer exists?
    We would require appropriate documentation that the trust no longer exists. Unless there is a named contingent beneficiary, we look to the provisions in the policy to determine the default beneficiary. Please read the applicable provisions of the policy or contact the Customer Service area applicable to your situation.
  • When are Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration required?
    Letters Testamentary are only necessary where the Estate is the named beneficiary and the estate is due the life insurance proceeds. Where a named beneficiary other than the Estate is receiving the life insurance proceeds, we do not require copies of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration.
  • What are Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration?
    Both Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration name the person/entity who has been appointed as the legal representative of the decedent's estate. Letters Testamentary generally are issued by a court of proper jurisdiction during the probate process, and name the person/entity who has been appointed under the Will as Executor/Executrix. If there is no Will admitted for probate, then the court will generally appoint an Administrator and issue Letters of Administration naming the appointed person/entity. There are varying names of this document, depending on the state.
  • What if the estate is not being probated?
    Contact the Customer Service area applicable to your situation for guidance.

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 Financial 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.