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: Sep 15, 2020

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Many insurance company customers and many advisors who deal with the bereaved have told companies that the immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one is a bad time to make financial decisions. Most major life insurance companies are enabling beneficiaries receiving payouts on all but very small policies the opportunity to safely defer any decisions on what to do with the proceeds while at the same time providing immediate access to some or all of the funds via a “checkbook.”

The insurance companies do this by automatically creating – at no fee to the beneficiary — special interest bearing accounts known in the industry as retained assets accounts for beneficiaries of their policies. The accounts are often given a brand name by each insurance company (for example, MetLife® (which created the first retained assets account) uses the trademarked name Total Control Account®). The proceeds of the death benefit are typically placed into the account at the insurance company for the beneficiary. Thus the funds remain protected by the insurance company.

Through the use of the retained asserts account the beneficiary is usually able to defer financial decisions. This enables the beneficiary to have time to decide whether another settlement option would be advisable – often some may be and some are not — and how the funds should be invested for the long term after he or she has had time to adjust to the death of the family member or friend.