A cautionary tale

The following story is a reminder of the importance of the role of financial adviser.

My wife and I had known Nigel and Annette from 1980 – like us they had two children. When, tragically, Annette died in 1982 aged just 32, Nigel effected a whole of life policy with Zürich to give some financial security for the children. Nigel later remarried. His new wife Marilyn was a controller, gradually cutting Nigel away from his friends, and we lost touch. Nigel developed multiple sclerosis. As he deteriorated Marilyn consigned him to a nursing home, divorced him and alienated Nigel’s two children, Alice and Edward, who disappeared into their own lives.

Twenty years later I surmised that Nigel was still living as I was getting a princely 25p monthly renewal commission on his policy. Meeting an old acquaintance last summer, I learned that Nigel had died in 2009. So who was still paying the premiums and why had the money not been claimed? I guessed the answer to the first question, remembering the structure of the policy, which was that the policy reserves supported the premium. However, Zürich would not give me any information as I could not meet all the security checks.

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With much difficulty I tracked down Alice. She confirmed Nigel’s demise and that her stepmother had ensured that she and Edward received nothing from their father’s estate. It would have been de rigeur to write Nigel’s policy in trust so we worked out who the trustee would be and we were able to claim the proceeds of £66,000 for Alice and Edward. Edward, I learned, was in desperate financial straits so the £33,000 has transformed his life.

Why had the money not been claimed by Nigel’s executors? So much for legal diligence. My knowledge and perseverance paid off. My reward? Joy for the two children and a clawback of £15.

Gary Pashley
Director, GLD Associates,