Common Questions

Top Questions

What documents do I need to file a life insurance claim for death benefits?

Once Church Life has verified your status as a beneficiary, we will mail you a packet of information to help you with your annuity claim. You'll need to file:

  • A certified copy of the death certificate. If you cannot obtain a copy, ask the deceased's attending physician to complete and return an Attending Physician Form. In some cases, we will accept a published obituary if you are unable to provide a death certificate or Attending Physician Form.
  • Certificates of appointment, if you are filing as executor, administrator, trustee, or in any other fiduciary capacity.
  • Completed claimant’s statement, which you’ll find in the beneficiary packet you receive from Church Life. All beneficiaries listed on the contract are required to complete this statement.
  • Any additional claim form required for the payment option you have selected, also included in the packet.

Do I have to pay taxes on my life insurance death benefit?

Generally, death benefits paid to a beneficiary are tax free, with some exceptions. For example, the insurer may report interest paid on the proceeds as taxable income.

How will I receive the annuity payments?

As an annuity beneficiary, you may choose Choice Income, Guaranteed Income for Life, Lump Sum payment, and or Interest Only payment. Please contact us for more information regarding the payment options available to you as a beneficiary of a Church Life annuity account.

Consult your tax advisor about potential tax implications before making a choice.

Where can I get a death certificate?

From the funeral director or County Clerk's office. For guidance, go to the National Center for Health Assistance.

More Life Insurance Questions

How will I receive the life insurance benefit?

You have choices. Since individual cases vary:

  1. Call us at (866) 802-6333 Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 8:00PM ET, for assistance.
  2. Consult a tax advisor about the tax implications of your options before making a choice.

What if the claim involves multiple beneficiaries and/or contracts?

If the contracts are administered by Church Life or its affiliates, only one death certificate from one beneficiary is required.

What if the primary beneficiary dies before the insured person does?

In most cases, proceeds are payable to the contingent beneficiary. If no beneficiaries survive, payment is determined by the terms of the policy. For example, if the designated beneficiary survives the insured, but dies before the claim is made, proceeds may be payable to the beneficiary's estate. Please read the applicable provisions of the policy.

For help, call us at (866) 802-6333 Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 8:00PM ET, or email us with your question.

What if the insured person dies in a foreign country?

Death in a foreign country requires special handling that can extend the claim processing time. If the death certificate is not in English, please provide a translation.

What if I am not a U.S. citizen?

As a beneficiary, if you do not have a United States Social Security number, you must submit an original death certificate, along with an IRS W8-BEN Form. Such cases require special handling that can extend the time it takes to process the claim.

What if I wish to use benefit proceeds to pay funeral home expenses?

Submit a signed Funeral Home Assignment Form (provided by the funeral home) and a detailed breakdown of the expenses. The funeral home will be paid first, and you will receive the balance of any proceeds.

What if the beneficiary is a minor?

Each state limits fund payments to minors. A court-appointed legal guardianship/conservatorship document is generally required when the death benefit exceeds state limits. The age of majority is 18 in most states.

Do I need to submit proof if the beneficiary has appointed an attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney, or had a guardian/conservator appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction?

Yes. Church Life requires copies of appropriate supporting documentation if an attorney-in-fact or a guardian/conservator is signing on behalf of the beneficiary.

If the beneficiary is a corporation, does an officer need to sign with his or her title?

Yes, an officer from the company needs to sign with his or her title. We also generally require documentary evidence of the officer's authority to sign on behalf of the corporation.

If the beneficiary is a trust, should I submit trust documents?

Yes, if possible. With copies of trust documents we can:

  • Confirm the existence of the trust.
  • Verify the trustee or the successor trustee.
  • Verify the trust date.
  • Ensure that payment is accurate and accepted by your financial institution.

In lieu of trust documents, you may send a certificate of trust.

What if the trust no longer exists?

We require appropriate documentation that the trust no longer exists. Without a named contingent beneficiary, we look to the provisions in the policy to determine the default beneficiary. Please read the applicable provisions of the policy or call us at (866) 802-6333 Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 8:00PM ET.

When are letters testamentary or letters of administration required?

Only when the estate is the named beneficiary and is due the life insurance proceeds.

What are letters testamentary or letters of administration?

These name the person or entity appointed as the legal representative of the decedent's estate. Letters testamentary are usually issued by a court of proper jurisdiction during the probate process. They name the person or entity who has been appointed executor or executrix under the will.

If no will is admitted for probate, the court will usually appoint an administrator and issue letters of administration naming the appointed person or entity. The name of this document varies by state.

What if the estate is not being probated?

Call us at (866) 802-6333 Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 8:00PM ET, or email us for help.

What else should I know?

Download Getting Organized After a Loss for help with:

  • Coping with your loss
  • Gathering important papers
  • Additional Resources

More Annuity Questions

What if the claim involves multiple beneficiaries and/or contracts?

If the contracts are administered by Church Life or its affiliates, only one death certificate from one beneficiary is required.

What if the beneficiary is a minor and the contract owner has not appointed a guardian?

Each state has specific rules about paying funds to a minor. When the death benefit exceeds a certain amounts, a court-approved legal guardianship/conservatorship document may be required. Please contact the annuity contract administrator for specific rules that apply to your situation. For annuities with Church Life, email us or call (866) 802-6333, Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 8:00PM ET.

What if the insured person dies in a foreign country?

Death in a foreign country requires special handling that can extend the claim processing time. If the death certificate is not in English, please provide a translation.

What if I am not a U.S. citizen?

As a beneficiary, if you do not have a United States Social Security number, you must submit an original death certificate, along with an IRS W8-BEN Form. Such cases require special handling that can extend the time it takes to process the claim.

What if I wish to use benefit proceeds to pay funeral home expenses?

Submit a signed Funeral Home Assignment Form (provided by the funeral home) and a detailed breakdown of the expenses. The funeral home will be paid first, and you will receive the balance of any proceeds.

Are annuity death benefit payments taxable and if so, how are they taxed?

Annuity death benefits payments may be fully or partially taxable as ordinary income (not capital gain income), depending on the type of contract (non-qualified or qualified type, such as IRA or Tax Sheltered Annuity) and whether the owner made after-tax contributions.

Depending on the payment option elected, this income may be includable in the year of distribution, or tax may be payable over a period of time. Also, annuity death benefit payments may be subject to estate or inheritance taxes, which vary by jurisdiction. You should check with your tax advisor to determine the potential tax implications of your options before choosing.

What if the beneficiary is an estate, trust, or other entity?

If the beneficiary is not a named individual, official paperwork naming the estate representative, trustee, or official for that claim will be required.

More questions?

Call us at (866) 802-6333 Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 8:00PM ET, or email us.

Please note that this document is provided to you for general informational purposes only and should not be viewed as financial, tax, legal or other advice. Neither Church Life, nor any of its affiliates (collectively, "Church Pension Group") renders any such advice. Be sure to consult with your own professional advisor prior to making any decisions relative to your specific situation. In the event of a conflict between the information contained in this document and the actual annuity or insurance contract, the actual annuity or insurance contract will govern.

Life insurance and annuities are offered by or through Church Life Insurance Corporation, 19 East 34th Street, New York, NY 10016.

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