Originally Posted by MichaelB
It usually takes 7 to 10 days after they receive a copy of the death certificate.
That sounds right. If you have an agent who is on the ball and learns of your passing, s/he will likely contact your DW with condolences and assist in filing the claim - generally all that is needed is the death certificate. For your employer policy typically the employer will help facilitate the claim. If you don't have an agent then someone will need to contact the insurer, inform them of your passing and file a claim.
In all cases, after the claim is filed the benefit is generally paid promptly. Instead of a check, DW might receive a checkbook that she can write checks out of up to the amount of the death benefit. So she could use that checkbook to pay the funeral home and whatever or she could just right a single check for the full amount and deposit it to your regular bank account.
If you have an agent assisting, the agent may try to assist DW as to how to "invest" the funds. I think it is best that she wait a couple months rather than try to make an immediate decision.