Do I need a lawyer to file a death claim?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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You will usually not need legal help when filing a death claim, unless it falls into one of the circumstances outlined below.

If you think there may be a problem, or the policy is very large (or the estate is subject to federal estate tax in which case it may be wise to ask tax counsel if a disclaimer might help reduce estate taxes before filing the claim) consulting a lawyer who knows insurance law would be wise. Further, instead of taking large amounts of proceeds in a lump sum, you may want to ask an attorney to find a neutral financial planner who could honestly explain some of the valuable settlement options that may be available to you as a beneficiary.

What is known as the “checkbook instead of a check” program (and other settlement options) usually pay higher rates, with no commissions or fees (which is why some agents and brokers do not like people to consider them), and in some states also protect the proceeds from possible claims of creditors.

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