One of the greatest “gifts” someone can forward to their loved ones is an estate plan and detailed insurance record keeping. Part of estate planning is getting your records in order. That’s because when you’re gone, others have to find your records to take actions on your holdings. Let’s see how to get your life insurance – on you – in order for your spouse or another to act when the times comes.

Where to keep your policy? Store a record of it (them) in at least two places where they’re safe and easily accessible, so that there are no delays in processing the life insurance. But don’t keep life insurance policies in a safe deposit box. The box is required to be sealed temporarily upon the death of the owner. And that’ll delay settlement.

What information should one keep?

For each policy, list:

• The registered name of the life insurance company that issued the policy.

• The city and state where the company that issued the policy is based.

• The name and U.S. headquarters of the group, if the issuing company is part of a group of companies.

• The life insurance policy number.

• The date the life insurance policy was issued.

• The death benefit amount.

• The name, address and telephone number of the agent/broker who sold you the policy.

• The type of life insurance policy issued.

• The location where the original life insurance policy is kept.

Leave these directions on how to file a claim when the time has come:

• Pull out the copies of the death certificate.

• Call the insurance agent, who can help you fill out the necessary forms and act as an intermediary with the insurance company. You can contact the company directly if you don’t have an insurance agent or don’t know who the deceased’s agent was.

• Submit the policy claim along with a certified copy of the death certificate from the funeral director.

It doesn’t usually take long for the settlement to be issued once you have submitted the claim.

Perhaps give a suggestion on how the insurance proceeds are distributed from the following options:

• Lump sum – the entire death benefit is disbursed in a single amount.

• Specific income provision – payments of both principal and interest are made on a predetermined schedule.

• Life income option – a guaranteed income for life is paid out, the amount of which depends on the death benefit, beneficiary’s gender and age at the time of the insured’s death.

• Interest income option – the insurance company holds the proceeds and only pays you interest on them with the death benefit going to a secondary beneficiary upon your death.

Wm. Steve Wright is managing member of The Wright Legacy Group.