The matter of postmortem planning is something to take into consideration when you are planning ahead for the inevitable. Yes, you do have to execute all the appropriate estate planning documents. The basic estate plan would include a will and/or a trust, a living will, and durable powers of attorney at minimum.
You may have life insurance as well, and if you do you must let someone know about your policy or policies.
If you use a last will to direct asset transfers the person who will be charged with responsibility of inventorying the resources, paying final expenses, and ultimately distributing inheritances to the heirs is the executor or executrix.
When you choose your administrator you should select someone who has the business know-how that it will take to handle all of these tasks. The executor also has to have the time to administer the estate properly, and this is something else to take into consideration.
In order to be able to do the job right the executor must have access to all relevant paperwork. This is going to include insurance policies.
Consumer Reports probed the subject, and they state that there is around $1 billion out there in unclaimed insurance proceeds.
Insurance policies that you paid into for years are not going to do anyone any good if nobody knows that they exist after you pass away. Make sure that you think everything through thoroughly when you are planning your estate. Talk things over with your executor and give this individual access to all relevant documents.