News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 pm

Have you updated who should get your money once you pass?

Photo by Ben K Adams via Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to story

Download this story 4MB

You might be due some money, but unless your loved one kept track of his or her paperwork, it might take years to get to you.

California helped hundreds of people claim $11 million last year from their family's life insurance policies by offering a self-service tool promoted by the Department of Insurance.

That money was first lost because before they died, the deceased neglected to update their next of kin or beneficiary.

Why do people lose money?

The insurance company might not track you down to let you know that you've been named as a beneficiary. Sometimes people don’t even know their loved one had a policy, or where it is. 

"What happens in many cases is someone will buy a life insurance policy, throw it in a desk drawer or a file cabinet or maybe it will get stuck behind a desk or stuck behind the file cabinet, and everybody forgets about it. The person passes away and no claim is made," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

Is there anything you can do to prevent this?

Jones recommends you let someone know about your wishes for what you want to happen to your assets when you die.

"We encourage people to take the time, no matter how few their assets, to prepare a will, to give some direction to whomever is going to be administering your estate as to what your wishes are, and that includes the disposition of assets and also identifying whether you have life insurance policies so that they know to make a claim," he said.

What if I think there’s money out there for me?

There are a number of tools that California’s different departments offer to help link consumers with lost money: