You need to contact the insurance company to find out. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to find out what insurance company, if any, the person was using. But here are a few hints: If you have access to the person's records, look through the files for a copy of the policy or cancelled checks to an insurance company. If the person had auto or home insurance, contact that company. Many people keep all their insurance policies with one company. Ask relatives of the person who died, if they know of a life insurance policy and if so, with what company. Contact their state Office of Unclaimed Property, they would have a record of the insurance payments.
The beneficiary of a life insurance policy is designated when the policy is taken out. After that the policy owner (usually the insured but now always) can change the beneficiary by completing a change of beneficiary form. The company processes the change then sends you an amendment showing the change. Normally you put this amendment with the policy as it becomes part of the policy. If the policy owner kept their records straight then you could look at the policy and see the latest amendment to find out who the current beneficiary is. If your not sure the policy is kept up to date you can contact the company and see who the latest beneficiary is on the policy.
If the beneficiary of a policy has died, the estate of the beneficiary can still collect the insurance payment, assuming that the beneficiary does have an heir or heirs of some kind (as most people do). Note that this is a fairly unusual situation, because normally when a beneficiary dies, a new beneficiary is named. There is no reason to allow the policy to have no living beneficiary, unless the insured and the beneficiary happen to die at about the same time, and there is no time to name a new beneficiary.
A will cannot insert a name or change the name of a beneficiary of a will. However, you can have an insurance policy made payable to the estate, then give the proceeds of the policy to a named beneficiary. Problem here is that the policy proceeds run through the estate and become subject to debts and administration expenses and perhaps taxes, whereas they would not be if a beneficiary were named in the policy.
Beneficiary information is privately held by the owner of the policy. The only way you can find out is to ask that person. The company would be seriously violating privacy laws to give you this information. If you own the policy, explain that and ask what you need to give them in order for them to verify.
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