Losing a loved one is a difficult and emotionally challenging time. However, with the right support and planning, it is possible to manage the financial aspects of a loss with ease.
One aspect that many people overlook when planning their financial future is the death benefit that comes with life insurance policies. A death benefit is a lump sum payment that is made to the beneficiary of a life insurance policy upon the policyholder’s death.
While the intention behind the life insurance death benefit is to provide financial support to the beneficiary during a difficult time, there are instances where the beneficiaries may no longer require the benefit. In this post, we’ll explore what a death benefit is, how it works, and what to do if your beneficiaries no longer need the life insurance death benefit.
What is a Death Benefit?
A death benefit is a payment made to the beneficiary of a life insurance policy upon the policyholder’s death.
The amount of the death benefit varies depending on the terms of the policy, but it is usually a lump sum payment that is designed to provide financial support to the beneficiary during a difficult time. In most cases, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy is a family member or loved one of the policyholder.
The death benefit can be used for a variety of purposes, including paying off outstanding debts, covering funeral expenses, and providing ongoing financial support to the beneficiary.
How Does a Life Insurance Death Benefit Work?
When a policyholder purchases a life insurance policy, they name a beneficiary to receive the death benefit in the event of their death. The beneficiary is usually a family member or loved one of the policyholder.
When the policyholder passes away, the beneficiary must file a claim with the insurance company to receive the death benefit. Once the claim is approved, the insurance company will pay the death benefit directly to the beneficiary.
Why beneficiaries no longer need the death benefit
It can be hard to imagine someone no longer needing or wanting a lump sum of money, but people become financially independent, and needs change as time passes.
There are several scenarios in which your beneficiaries may no longer need the death benefit. For example, if the beneficiary passes away before the policyholder, the life insurance death benefit may no longer be necessary. Similarly, if the beneficiary’s financial situation improves significantly after the policyholder’s death, they may no longer require the financial support provided by the death benefit.
Maybe you took out a life insurance policy to make sure your kids could pay for college no matter what happened to you. Their graduation will be a joy and a triumph; it’ll also be a sign to revisit your plans for your life insurance policy. Maybe your children grew into independent adults who are thriving financially on their own.
Perhaps you took out a whole life insurance policy when you got married and now you are divorced and your ex no longer depends on you. In these cases, you might want to change your beneficiaries.
What Happens If Your Beneficiaries No Longer Need the Death Benefit?
We take out life insurance to make sure the people we care about are provided for, no matter what. Things change, though—children grow up and become financially independent, needs evolve—and you might find your beneficiaries no longer require your policy’s death benefit.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options to adjust your life insurance policy to fit your changing needs:
1. Designate another beneficiary
You took out an insurance policy so your beneficiary could be helped by the death benefit. If that is no longer the case, consider selecting a new beneficiary for your policy. Many big life changes—a marriage, a new family member, a loved one’s death—can be good reasons to revise your beneficiaries.
You can even select multiple beneficiaries; just keep in mind that you’ll have to specify their respective shares in your policy.
2. Designate contingent beneficiaries
Things change, people get older, and sometimes beneficiaries are no longer around when the time comes to distribute your policy’s death benefit. That is precisely why designating contingent beneficiaries is a good practice.
A contingent beneficiary receives your life insurance death benefit if your primary beneficiary passes away before you do or refuses the payout. Contingent beneficiaries can be family, potential guardians to your children, friends, or even charitable organizations.
3. Consider giving back
Charitable organizations can be a good option when your beneficiaries no longer need your life policy’s death benefit. If there is a cause you care about, making them part of your policy can be a great way to give back.
You can name a charitable organization as a beneficiary to receive all or part of the life insurance death benefit. Another option is to make the organization both the beneficiary and owner of the policy, giving them access to the cash value as well.
Just because your current beneficiaries no longer need your policy’s death benefit doesn’t mean you are out of choices. There might be someone else in your family who could benefit or even a charitable organization. It is important to take stock of your options and consider your life insurance needs as they evolve.
4. Redirect the funds
Another option is to change the terms of the policy to redirect the funds. For example, you could choose to convert the policy into a paid-up policy, which means that you would no longer have to pay premiums but would still be entitled to a reduced life insurance death benefit.
Alternatively, you could choose to surrender the life insurance policy and receive the cash value of the policy. Keep in mind that surrendering a policy may have tax implications, so it is important to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional before making any changes to your policy.
Losing a loved one is never easy, and dealing with the financial aspects of a loss can be overwhelming. However, with the right support and planning, it is possible to manage the financial aspects of a loss with ease.
If your beneficiaries no longer need the life insurance death benefit, there are several options available to you, including naming a new beneficiary, donating the funds to a charity or other organization, or changing the terms of the policy to redirect the funds.
Whatever option you choose, it is important to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional to ensure that you are making the best decision for your individual circumstances.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.