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Money Fix: Tracking down a life insurance policy

It's tough enough when someone you love dies.

It's tough enough when someone you love dies. If their affairs were not in order, it may be difficult to track down a life insurance policy, but experts have some advice. Credit: iStock

It's tough enough when someone you love dies. If they didn't leave their affairs in order, you may find yourself hunting for a life insurance policy. Here's how to begin your search.

DIG DEEP. Check the mail. If payments are still being made on a policy, you'll see a bill when the next premium is due. You may also see periodic statements setting out the value of the policy, says John Vento, president of Comprehensive Wealth Management in Staten Island.

Look through the last three years of bank statements and canceled checks of the decedent and try to identify any payments to an insurance company. This check would include the insurance company name and policy number in the memo section.

CHECK OLD TAX RETURNS. If a policy pays interest, you may find evidence of those payments.

Start calling: Contact current and former employers or unions. Many companies offer life insurance as an employee benefit. See if the policy is still in effect.

Every state has an unclaimed property department and a searchable database. In New York, you can write to the Office of State Comptroller, Office of Unclaimed Funds, 110 State St., Albany, N.Y. 12236, call 800-221-9311 or email NYSOUF@osc.state.ny.us.

As a last resort, says Vento, use a policy locator service. For example, the MIB Group (mib.com) has a huge database of policies, which it will search for $75.

AVOID MISTAKES. Says Vento, "If you use a policy service, be careful of scammers. There are bogus services that claim they will find your missing money but ask for lots of money up front."

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