Money Matters

The old policy lost & found

Author: By Dan Serles & John Stohlman
Posted: Monday, February 22, 2010

Many readers have written us regarding financial papers and their current worth. The questions have included what to do with old bank certificates of deposits, old stock certificates and ancient papers from life insurance companies. Every questioner wants us to ascertain whether the papers mean found money.

 

One such question comes from Mrs. G. of Erie, PA. She writes…

 

“After reading one of your articles, I found some very old premium receipt books from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The policies covered the lives of my parents.

There are eight books that range from 1937 to 1960. They include policy numbers, but no values at death. Furthermore, they show coverage for three of my five siblings and even coverage for me!

I have no claim forms. How do I research these contracts and are there statutes of limitations on the money they would owe me or my siblings as possible beneficiaries?”

 

Dear Mrs. G:

In cases like yours, where policies are forgotten, sometimes for many years, people often assume they are worthless paper. Often this is not the case.  There is no statute of limitations on a life insurance claim. In fact, many policies’ death proceeds are paid years after the date of death.

In your case, since the time elapsed is so long, the contracts would have to be whole life (permanent) policies, whose cash value and dividends were high enough to carry them from the date of last payment until today. Or, they would have to be the type of policy that was paid-up. In other words, your family had paid all of the premiums due. So, those contracts may be simply growing dividends and interest and the insurance company is waiting for your call.

To make your claim, call or write the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, provide a list of policy numbers and ask for the status of each. If death benefits and/or dividends are due, the company will send them to you.

Epilogue: In preparing this article we contacted Mrs. G’s family. They stated they had indeed followed up with MetLife and found that two of the policies had value, and the death benefits have now been paid. John and I just love happy endings.

 

Dan Searles and John Stohlman, owners of Medallion Financial Group, are CFP®’s, financial planners and Registered Representatives with over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, offering securities and advisory services through National Planning Corporation (NPC), member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Medallion Financial Group and NPC are separate and unrelated companies. They manage over $250 million of client assets. For further info, questions or comments regarding this article, Dan and John can be reached at 301-990-9704 or 1-800-878-9704 or Dan.Searles@natplan.com.

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