The Boston Globe

When there's a death in the family, one of the first
things relatives need to do is get a death
certificate. Life insurance payments and other
critical things depend upon it.

But for the families of thousands of victims of the
terrorist attacks, whose bodies have not been
recovered, there may never be a death certificate.

Rather than let that lack of a piece of paper get in
the way of processing life insurance claims, however,
insurers and state regulators have approved the use of
a standardized life insurance affidavit by families of
the victims.

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance, for instance,
has on its Web site a copy of an "affidavit in lieu of
death certificate." A relative of someone believed
killed at the World Trade Center or Pentagon, or on
any of the four hijacked airplanes, must have the
affidavit notarized.

The form can be found at The
Insurance Division's site also provides a link to
insurance companies' toll- free numbers for assistance
in filing claims.

Beyond signing an affidavit or getting a death
certificate, survivors need to take a number of other
steps in the weeks and months ahead, no matter what
the circumstances of a death.

"Everyone will face the loss of a loved one at some
time, and many of us will be thrust into the role of
making financial decisions after the death of a family
member or close friend," said William L. Anthes,
president of the National Endowment for Financial
Education, as part of a campaign launched a couple of
months ago to educate people about the financial
decisions that need to be made after a death.

"While it's never possible to be fully prepared for
such an event, having some basic information can help
people cope with the tasks that lie ahead," said
Anthes of the Colorado-based group.

Among the steps outlined by the financial education

Look for the person's will, which spells out how
property should be distributed, who should be the
guardian for any minor children, and who should be the

Notify the Social Security Administration, which may
pay benefits to the surviving spouse and minor

Hire an attorney if you've been named executor, to
help you with such responsibilities as taking an
inventory of the estate's assets and filing the
appropriate tax returns

Tomorrow is the final filing deadline for 2000 income
tax returns, for people who got approval from the
Internal Revenue Service for an extra extension.

Most taxpayers should have filed by the traditional
April deadline or the automatic four-month extension
deadline in August. The Oct. 15 deadline applies only
to people who asked for and got an extra two- month

But there is an additional special extension for
taxpayers affected by the terrorist attacks, through
Feb. 12, 2002.

Qualifying for this filing extension: taxpayers
directly affected by the attacks, as well as those who
live or work in New York City or Arlington County,
Va.; rescue workers involved in the relief efforts;
and people whose tax records are kept in the disaster
To take advantage of the special extension, write in
red ink at the top of the return, "September 11, 2001
Terrorist Attack." For more details, go to

Browser alert: An insurance Internet site incompatible
with a Macintosh version of America Online led a
consumer group to give a bad rating to the site a
couple of months ago.

The "Not Recommended" rating on,
reported in this column a few weeks ago, has since
been changed by the Consumer Federation of America, so
that the site now ranks as among the best.

The browser incompatibility did not allow the
federation to get term life insurance quotes, thus
leading to the bad rating. But at's
request, CFA retested the site using different
browsers on the same Macintosh, and was able to get
the quotes.

As a result, the nonprofit association of more than
280 consumer groups found that AccuQuote "did have
good coverage and did produce the lowest quote. We
have thus determined that AccuQuote should be included
as one of CFA's `best sites.' "

The most highly recommended site for shopping for term
life, however, remains, according to the
federation. Rounding out the best sites are,, and

Each of the 25 Web sites in the group's study was
asked to provide a quote and other information for a
$500,000, 10-year-term policy, for a hypothetical
40-year-old male in excellent health.

Nine of the 25, or 36 percent, were found to be "so
inadequate and potentially misleading that they are
`not recommended' by the CFA," according to the
revised rating. For the complete study, go to
AccuQuote, meanwhile, is trying to address the AOL
5.0/Macintosh browser incompatibility.