Closing out an estate of a loved one can sometimes become convoluted. It may be that they died unexpectedly and much of the paperwork needed was not kept in an organized fashion. In the case of life insurance, you may find an old policy while you're going through old tax returns, check books and other documents that you didn't realize existed. Finding out if benefits were paid on a policy, even many years later, can be done with just a little legwork on your part.
Review the policy or statement you have found. Look for the contact information of the insurance company as well as the account number of the insurance policy.
Compile pertinent information about the deceased so you have it available when speaking with the insurance company. This should include the name, Social Security number, date of birth and address of record of the deceased person.
Call the insurance company using the customer service number you located on the statement or policy.
Request to speak with someone in benefit claims. Provide the representative with the account number along with the name and date of birth of the deceased.
Ask the representative who the designated beneficiaries are and whether the policy has been paid out. If it has been, ask when the date of benefits were paid.
If the insurance company has merged or changed names, you may need to contact your local Department of Insurance to find the new contact information of the insurance company. Very few insurance companies go out of business without first selling off the assets, in this case, policies. So don't give up if you find that the number is no longer in service on an old policy statement.
To find out if benefits were paid, you probably don't need a death certificate, but it would be wise to have one handy in case you are requested to fax one over to confirm that the insured is indeed deceased.
Be sure to find out who the beneficiaries are. If you suspect fraud, you will need to contact the police to investigate the case. There are many senior citizens who are conned into changing beneficiary names and the rightful beneficiaries do not find out until it is too late.