This guest post comes from Angie Picardo at NerdWallet.

It's amazing how many people pay for life insurance for years and years but then don't give their beneficiaries the information needed to make the claim. According to Consumer Reports, there are over $1 billion in forgotten and lost life insurance policies that have gone unclaimed.

If you have been wondering where to look for life insurance you think is lost, there are plenty of resources available to assist you in your search.

If you're lucky, you'll know which life insurance company held the policy on your deceased relative. Then it's a simply matter of contacting the company directly and initiating the claim paperwork. If you aren't sure if there was a life insurance policy, it certainly won't hurt to do some research to check. It would be a shame if that person paid into a policy for many years, only to have it go undiscovered.

Labor unions, fraternal orders and former employers should be contacted to see if they provided a life insurance policy as a part of membership.

Websites like Missing Money are designed to help you search for any unclaimed benefits in your state for immediate family members. If your search does turn up missing funds, you will need proper documentation to prove your identity.

Sometimes a beneficiary is aware of a policy, only to find out the policy owner stopped making payments, causing the policy to lapse. If payments stop on a permanent life insurance policy, the insurer will often use any available cash value to cover premium payments until the cash value runs out.

It's hard losing a loved one, but if they planned for you to have a life insurance payout, losing out on that doesn't make the situation any better.

Angie Picardo is a writer at Nerdwallet, where you can find advice on financial topics ranging from health insurance benefits to comparing costs for San Diego airport parking.