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Help For The Surviving

October 8, 2012

It was the IRS notices that prompted my friend to call.  Her mother had died several years earlier.  She knew her mom had ran the family finances but did not realize her dad had been struggling to pick up where she had left off. A search of his office yielded a kitchen table piled with collection notices, threatening letters, notices of unpaid back taxes AND an unclaimed life insurance policy. Money was not an issue here…her father had plenty of money.

No matter how high the income, if a surviving spouse depended heavily on the other spouse to handle the finances, he or she is vulnerable when grief and depression follow the loss of their loved one.

The unclaimed life policy puzzled me. What I learned was that at least 10 states are investigating whether some of the country’s largest insurers are failing to pay out unclaimed life policies to beneficiaries.  Insurers say they are behaving lawfully; they are only required to pay claims when beneficiaries come foward. Additionally, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state treasurers currently hold $32.9 BILLION in unclaimed bank accounts and other assests.

So, how do I keep this from happening to my parents?  Iowa State University Extension has a handy publication called Getting Organized that can help you get it all together AND remember where you put it.  Be sure other family members know where it is, too. ~Brenda

Brenda Schmitt

Brenda Schmitt

A Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Finance Field Specialist helping North Central Iowans make the most of their money.

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