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This is a difficult time. AXA is here to help you through it. If you need personal assistance at any time, we recommend that you contact your financial professional, or select a product below for forms and customer service contact information.

How to get started
  • Step 1

    Check the policy or contract to find the specific company that issued the coverage. All forms and contact information are specific to each AXA Equitable Company and/or specific product line. One of the names listed below should be prominently displayed. If none of these are on your documentation call the company or financial professional that does appear.

  • Step 2

    Select the appropriate products from the lists below. If you have multiple policies or annuity contacts, a separate form needs to be completed for each of them.

    If the contract owner was receiving regular pension or annuity benefits use the "Death After Retirement" form.

Life insurance policy forms

Annuity contract forms

  • Support resources

What to do after a loss

During this time it will be difficult but important to keep track of all the legal and personal issues you are facing. We've put together this guide to help you.

The First Few Days

Find the will (if there is one).
Funeral instructions may be contained in the will, and, therefore, it should be the first document you locate. Usually the will is kept in a safe deposit box or in a home safe.
However, a copy may be obtained at the office of the attorney who drew up the will or on file at the Surrogate Court.

Make funeral or memorial service arrangements.
Funeral directors often help notify newspapers and associations for the purposes of publishing a death notice.

Order 15 or more certified death certificates.
You may obtain death certificates from either the funeral director or the County Clerk’s office. This can usually be done for a nominal fee. You will need certified copies of death certificates to claim Social Security and insurance benefits, change ownership of joint property, to enter safe deposit boxes and to file tax returns. Larger estates may require as many as 50 certificates. Photocopies are often not acceptable.

Check with Social Security and the Veterans Administration (VA).
You may qualify for burial allowances. The VA also provides a marker for the grave, an American flag for the casket and, in some cases, transportation to a Veterans Cemetery. Contact them again within the next two weeks to discuss death benefits.

Clip obituary notices.
Some insurance companies require a dated newspaper announcement in order to process claims.

Call your financial professional.
You don’t need to pay an advisor to file for insurance or annuity proceeds. Your Financial Professional can help you expedite your claims processing, discuss payment options and help you and your other professional advisors review your new financial situation.

Check the status of your medical insurance coverage.
Spouse and children may be entitled to continue their medical coverage under the deceased’s employee benefit plan as long as they continue to pay the premiums. If the present coverage
cannot be continued or can only be converted to an individual policy at a higher rate, your financial professional may be able to help you find the most cost-effective coverage.

Contact each financial institution where the deceased banked.
A bank may seal the deceased’s safe deposit box and may freeze any checking or savings accounts after the death announcement is published. You may then be required to obtain
a release before funds can be withdrawn from those accounts. A bank officer can explain the procedure for obtaining a release.

Apply for death benefits
Write formal letters notifying companies and organizations that the insured is deceased. These include: the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, the deceased’s employer or former employer, union, civil service, professional and trade associations, fraternity/sorority, alumni and automobile club. Employment and membership organization benefits do not come automatically. You must apply for them.  (You may want to contact Social Security and the Veterans Administration right away because a delay in applying can result in the loss of some benefits.)

Consult an attorney
It is wise to seek legal counsel on such matters as setting up trusts, recording property deeds, disposing of stocks, bonds, bank accounts or business property, as well as conserving and
disbursing the deceased’s estate. During the initial consultation, discuss fees and the need for engaging an attorney’s service.

Have someone watch your home during services
Burglars have been known to read obituaries to find out when no one will be home.

Within Two Weeks

Locate important papers and documents.
Certain documentation is needed (document checklist) to claim death benefits. Anyone involved in an estate will need access to a wide range of information and documentation.

Also you will need to check with the deceased’s accountant, who may know of certain business arrangements that you are not aware of and who will help access tax records.

Do not throw out any documents such as life insurance policies and certificates, even if the policyholder stopped paying premiums.  The policy may still be in force.

If you have trouble finding anything, ask family, friends and business associates who may be able to point you in the right direction.

Advise all creditors
Be sure to notify all agencies that hold installment loans, credit cards, mortgages, student loans and service contracts about the death. Ask if any outstanding loans are insured, or if any life insurance benefits are available. Some of these loans may become fully paid in the event of a customer’s death.

Discuss outstanding debts with an attorney or surrogate court
Do not use insurance proceeds to pay debts of the deceased unless advised to do so by an attorney. You may not be obligated to use the insurance proceeds to pay such debts. Also,
beware of swindlers who send phony bills and overcharge for services. When in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau and refer suspicious bills to your attorney.

Contact the trust officer
If a trust was established by the deceased, discuss the terms of the trust with the trust officer.

If children are attending college, contact their school’s financial aid office
When a parent dies, college students are often eligible for increased financial aid, loans or grants.

The First Month

Set aside your inheritance and death benefits
If you are the beneficiary of a policy insuring the deceased, you may want to choose a relatively safe, short-term financial instrument until you determine how to invest your money for the long term.

Review your life and disability insurance coverage
Your needs may have changed and, therefore, your life and disability insurance needs may be different. You may want to talk to an AXA Advisors, LLC Financial Professional about your situation.  

Start or continue to establish your credit rating.
This can be done by applying for credit cards, bank or car loans in your own name.

The First Six Months

Prepare a Budget
Record all income and expenses for several months to help determine where you stand financially. 

Review your own will
If you do not have a will, have your attorney draw one up for you. This is a proper time to make contingency plans in the event something happens to you. Remember to appoint an executor, and if you have minor children, a legal guardian. Be sure to ask person(s) you have in mind for these roles for their permission before you appoint them.

Change names on joint property
Be sure to include joint billing accounts, credit cards, house, property, automobiles and subscriptions. Once your property is released from joint tenancy, you should change any fire, auto or other insurance coverage you may have held jointly. Change beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement plans that named the deceased. Contact your local Motor Vehicle Department to clear title to your automobile, since it is handled differently in each state.

Find out if state and federal taxes on the estate are payable and when they are due
Most states impose either an inheritance tax or a state death tax. (Check your state law for filing deadlines.) The federal government also taxes estates valued above a certain amount and requires a return to be filed within nine months. Since tax laws are complicated, and can have a tremendous effect on you, consult a tax attorney and/or certified public accountant.

Postpone the decision on where to live for at least six months
If you feel the need to act sooner, consider taking temporary measures such as renting out your house instead of selling it, visiting family for a week or two before moving, or taking a long vacation before relocating. This will give you a chance to feel out a new neighborhood, living arrangements and conveniences.

The First Year

Plan for your future
Begin to make decisions you have postponed, including changing your residence and investing your inheritance. It is also a good time to set financial goals, such as providing for your children’s education and building a retirement nest egg. We offer this simple four-step process to help you identify your priorities and sort through your finances to make sure your needs are met. You may want to enlist the support of one or more financial professionals, and a certified public accountant and/or tax attorney. Talk to an AXA Advisors, LLC Financial Professional 

Step 1: Define your goals
When you lose a loved one, chances are your priorities will change. Your financial goals will take many forms, some immediate, some long-term. For example:

  • If the deceased was your household’s primary wage earner, generating an income may be your immediate goal.
  • If you’ve lost an adult child, you may wish to provide for the future of your grandchildren.
  • If a parent has passed away, you may need to care for your surviving parent during his/her golden years.

Step 2: Assess your finances
Next, you’ll need to take a look at your finances. If the deceased took care of the bills and investments, you may not even know where to start. The first thing to do is to simply gather together all brokerage and bank statements, retirement accounts, annuity and insurance policies, and a listing of the contents in your safe deposit box. Give them to your financial advisor. At the same time, you should prepare a simple budget to evaluate your income and expenses.  This will help you understand your immediate financial situation.

Step 3: Make an investment plan
Once you know your financial situation, you can figure out strategies to help you meet your goals. You may be well on your way to achieving some of them, if you haven’t already. However, there may be others — perhaps new ones — that are far from being satisfied. Here is where a Financial Professional can really help. An advisor can provide invaluable advice on how to:

  • Select a benefit payment plan — or combination of plans — that is best for you.
  • Help manage your money to meet immediate needs.
  • Invest to help achieve long-range objectives.

Step 4: Monitor results
Creating a plan is not a one-time event — and any plan developed in the wake of a significant loss should be designed for change.

  • Keep an eye on your investments to help achieve your immediate goals.
  • Evaluate the services and successes of your financial advisor. 
  • When you feel able, you should solidify your long-term strategy and make necessary changes.

Additional resources for beneficiaries

These resources may help you find the practical information you need for dealing with a loss - and the changes this loss may bring to your life.

  • Notifying organizations

    After the death of a loved one it may help to get in touch with various organizations. Using these resources can simplify the process.

  • Leaving a legacy

    Losing a loved one can alter your life in unforeseen ways. Get a complimentary review from one of our skilled professionals to make sure you are protected.

This information is provided for informational purposes only. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding all personal finance issues.

Please be advised that this document is not intended as legal or tax advice.  Accordingly, any tax information provided in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.  The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

“AXA” is the brand name for the AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC family of companies, including AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (NY, NY) issuer of annuity and life insurance products.  Securities offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, member FINRA, SIPC.  AXA Equitable and AXA Advisors are affiliated and do not provide tax or legal advice.

GE-91443 (02/2014)