Things every beneficiary should know about bereavement

Published on Mar 31, 2023

Many families do not think about death before they themselves have suffered a loss. In fact, 80% of Americans die without a will.

The first thing bereaved families will discover, besides the world-shattering pain of losing someone they love, is that the responsibilities that come with loss can be overwhelming. And because death is such a taboo topic in our culture, they will enter this experience without the knowledge they need to get through it.

Knowledgeable guides who can help them navigate this tricky financial, legal, and emotional terrain are invaluable—and can earn their trust for generations to come.

In the aftermath of loss, there are a few things every beneficiary should know about what’s to come in the weeks, months, and years after their loved one’s passing.

The logistics of loss are daunting

Empathy’s Cost of Dying Report, which surveyed 1,485 Americans who had experienced a recent loss, showed the toll that the death of a loved one takes in emotional, physical, and financial terms.

For example, 93% of respondents reporting at least one symptom affecting their physical or mental health. These symptoms varied widely in their significance, duration, and root causes. Some were easy to deal with, while others were life-altering—but it is just one example of the heavy burden beneficiaries are carrying.

Often they are carrying this load among people who feel uncomfortable with the idea of death and afraid of saying the “wrong thing”—which makes the bereaved person feel even more isolated and alone.

They also have a new set of financial, legal, and administrative responsibilities. These logistics start with things like planning the funeral, clearing out their belongings, and locating their will so it can be filed in court.

As the months (and sometimes years) go by, many other tasks will need to be accomplished, including: closing accounts, locating debts, paying bills, filing taxes, and in some cases selling the house.

Each task has its own set of rules to learn, and a different group of professionals to deal with (and sometimes to hire).

It is more time-consuming than most people think

The Cost of Dying Report also showed that most people underestimate how much time these tasks will take, and the majority cannot accomplish everything they need to do within the time allotted to them.

In fact, settling a loved one’s affairs amounts to a part-time job that lasts for more than a year, on average.

And 92% of employed respondents to the Cost of Dying Report survey said they took time off work or had to adjust their work commitments in the aftermath of loss. And as bereaved employees balanced the administrative, financial, and legal responsibilities of loss, 15% regularly missed work and 13% considering quitting.

Life insurance can provide ongoing support

Because of these challenges, it is important for any bereaved family to identify the organizations they can trust, to get the help they need.

While families may encounter red tape in dealing with banks and other service providers with whom their loved one did business, the life insurance relationship is built for both the policy holder and the beneficiary. This can feel like a relief for overburdened beneficiaries.

It is important for any bereaved family to identify the organizations they can trust, to get meaningful help with these challenges.

Extending this relationship can be a way of keeping some stability in their life amid a whirlwind of changes.

One way to extend the relationship is with options besides the lump-sum payment, whether that’s a specific income payment, a lifetime annuity, a fixed period annuity, or a retained asset account.

Another way is by offering bereavement care. Beneficiaries are in a situation where they have a lot of responsibilities to take care of and deadlines to make, and not a lot of people to help them figure it all out.

As a trusted partner offering solutions during this critical time, beneficiaries will know the level of care and service that could be provided in the future to their loved ones—another level of peace of mind.

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