Many of our parents or other relatives need help with finances as they age but few of us really know what to do to help. We often find a tangled web of statements, documents, contracts, insurance policies, and other assorted official looking documents that have no context. So where do you start?

Here’s what you do: get together all the data that you do have. Arrange everything by company, registration and then date (Pro tip: it helps to do this in manila files or a three ring binder with dividers). Once you get this even somewhat together, you will have, believe it or not, nothing useful… but you will have a roadmap to the information you actually need. Now you can start one company at a time. With your parent, or with documentation that you are in charge of their finances, call each company and ask the following 14 questions for each known policy.

Here is a list of the 14 questions you should ask:

  1. Is this a Life Insurance policy? If not, what type of contract is it?
  2. Do I have the right policy number?
  3. Who is the owner?
  4. Who is the insured?
  5. What is the address of record? (Confirm they have the right address!)
  6. If life insurance, what is the face amount/death benefit?
  7. Is there any cash value, if so, how much?
  8. What is the surrender value? (Surrender value could be different from cash value.)
  9. What is the annual scheduled premium?
  10. When was the last premium paid and how much was it?
  11. Who is the beneficiary? (They may not have this information readily available.)
  12. Will you please send a current statement to the address of record by regular mail?
  13. Are there any other policies with your company connected to my mother/father?
  14. If you were me, what other questions would you ask?

Now you will be able to weed out the contracts that are no longer active and analyze the effectiveness of the policies which are still in force. If you are working with a Certified Financial Planner™ who offers insurance analysis services, such as our LifeAssure Process, you can pass the information along to them for analysis.