Since the White House issued stay-at-home orders in April of 2020, just about every American has felt the effects of Covid-19 in some way. Unfortunately, some of those effects include the loss of loved ones. Since April of 2020 the CDC has reported over 898,710 deaths caused or contributed to by Covid-19. A large portion of those lost are of middle age. The age range of 45-64 has seen 192,683 pass from Covid-19. There has been 37,967 deaths from covid in the under age 45 group.
Why do I bring up these numbers? We get calls from individuals in the hospital or from family members after the loss of a loved one. Often times the conversations go something like this:
My father is in the hospital with Covid-19. He has indicated to me that he wishes for his children to get the proceeds of his life insurance policy, but he thinks his ex-spouse is still listed on the policy (In Missouri, your ex-spouse isn’t automatically removed from a life insurance policy depending on the date of the divorce and the terms of the divorce decree). The first question I ask is, “Why are you calling and not your father?” Unless your father is able to talk and communicate his wishes there is usually nothing that can be done. Even if he is able to communicate, with the hospital’s Covid-19 rules, we might not be able to get the paperwork and a notary to him to effectuate the changes.
This is just one example of what happens when you don’t regularly review and update your beneficiary designations for life insurance policies. If it comes down to a last minute update at the hospital the individual who owns the policy has to be able to communicate their wishes, get the appropriate paperwork, have legal capacity to make said changes, and sometimes requires their signature be notarized. With the new hospital policies it can be difficult to finalize these changes.
Covid-19 is yet another reminder that we shouldn’t be waiting until the last minute to review the beneficiaries on our life insurance policies. There should be a regular review and update of these policies especially after life altering moments, such as a divorce.
Keep those policies updated and potentially save yourself a call to an attorney’s office!
Stay Safe out there.
Joseph & Eugene
Covid-19 is another reminder to always check and update your life insurance beneficiaries and make sure your entire estate plan is in place.