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Another advisor's mistake: True tale of life insurance in action

Pearlyn Koh, ChFC

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I had to track down a widow before her money went unclaimed.

More than 10 years ago, an orphan client whom I had not met died of a pulmonary embolism. His grieving widow came to my office to complete the claims paperwork. What struck me about the case was that she came with a trusted friend who was also in financial services.

The “trusted advisor” acted like her attorney and handled everything. So, to me, that widow was a transactional customer, not a client, as she had vested all
her power of attorney to this advisor who was both protective and territorial.

I soon forgot her name and lost all contact with her until recently. Thirteen years later, I received a rather interesting memo for the widow, who was appointed administrator of her late husband’s estate, which went:

“We refer to maturity proceeds $xx,xxx due on DDMMYYYY. Please reach out to the administrator. We will be transferring the maturity proceeds to unclaimed proceeds if we do not receive any instruction within this memo.”

The proceeds were from her child’s education fund, which had been set up by her late husband. Because of inaction at the time of his death, the money was going to be lost. I needed to get in touch with the widow.

But the company couldn’t help me reach her because she had moved several times and her records were untraceable.

Since I didn’t want her child to lose the funds from their father, I counter checked with various departments. I eventually found the widow’s contact information and started to reach out to her. I actually found pictures of her child too, to verify the person was indeed who I was looking for.

When I was finally able to get in touch with the widow, her response was, “Who is this? Yes, I am the widow but I do not know you.”

I persisted, and she eventually understood I was trying to help her gain access to the funds her late husband had left for their child.

She apologized sheepishly as she thought I was a stalker. So yes, I would like to put myself forward as a first-class detective inspector to anyone who needs my service. I read Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie as a kid and watch police procedural dramas from across the world as an adult.

A word to all my dear colleagues in the business. We are not competitors but collaborators in putting the client’s financial house in order.

If her “trusted friend” hadn’t been so territorial 13 years ago when this widow was in such a vulnerable state, her affairs would have been better managed.

Pearlyn Koh is a 16-year MDRT member from Singapore. Contact her at


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