Death benefits are a great way to pass inheritance on to your loved ones without the need to open a probate or have a trust established. Death benefits or "non-probate transfers" provide money quickly to your family after someone passes away, often confidentiality, and without the same hoops you have to jump through to receive other benefits.
According to what is known as a "beneficiary designation,” death benefits pass funds from you to a person of your choice effective upon your passing. In other words, you are able to designate who will receive certain death benefits when you die. In most cases, all that is required is a death certificate, ID to show you are entitled to the money, and directions as to how you want the money distributed.
Ultimately, death benefits are governed by the contract terms of the company who issues it. Therefore, one whole life insurance policy or annuity may operate differently from another. Since some annuities have death benefits and some do not, you will need to work with the company to determine the rules that govern payment. In some instances, insurance companies will only pay out a certain amount if the death happens within a specific period of time after the insurance is issued. You will need to discuss the terms of the contract with the company and review the contract yourself to ensure you have the full story. If you don't get the help you need working directly with the company or have additional questions or needs, you may benefit from working with a qualified elder law attorney, like those at Tiffany & Bosco, to ensure your rights are protected and get the funds you are entitled to.