Death benefits are sums which are paid out to the survivors of a decedent, classically the spouse and/or children of the deceased, although they may also be paid to parents or business partners. There are a variety of ways to obtain these funds, depending on one's nationality and employment, ranging from purchasing life insurance, to applying for them from government agencies. Many people are encouraged to think about death benefits if they have dependent children or a spouse who might be financially impacted by a death.
The idea behind death benefits is that when a wage-earner dies, it can be very difficult for the survivors to cope. In a family with only one wage-earner, a death can be devastating, forcing the survivors to seek work to support themselves, and even in a house with multiple incomes, it can still present a blow. These benefits are designed to help people support themselves, and they may provide total support, or just enough help for the survivors to get on their feet and become independent.
Death benefits may come in the form of a periodic payment, known as an annuity, which is usually issued once a month. They can also be presented in a lump sum. Generally, people have an option to choose one or the other when establishing a benefits plan. Survivors should be aware that these funds may be considered taxable; it's a good idea to consult an accountant about tax responsibility.
Disputes about death benefits are common. In addition to the benefits which have accumulated in the fund at the date of death, many funds provide substantial life insurance benefits, which are added to the accumulated benefit.
At Lex Fori Lawyers, we have the expertise to handle complex death benefits claims and ensure we always achieve optimum outcome for our clients. For obligation free consultation, call our office on (02) 9723 8793 and make an appointment with our death claims specialist.