AIG controversies

60 year old Life and Accident accounts are worth surprisingly little.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

AIG Controversies

A few months ago I received a letter from the American General Life and Accident Insurance Company (AIG) regarding a heretofore-unknown Life and Accident Endowment that belonged to my grandfather. My wife was the one that handed me the mail that day. I didn’t think it was anything but junk mail. I looked at who it was addressed to and saw that it was addressed to my grandfather who used to live in my house. Actually the house belonged to my grand dad, but he died in 1983. I bought the house from another family member in 1997. Anyway I opened the letter and it stated that there was an endowment policy belonging to my grandfather that had just matured and AIG wanted to know if my grandfather wanted to have taxes taken out of it for tax year 2006. They had no idea my grandfather is deceased. I called AIG for information and to find out about the funds and determine whom the beneficiary might be.

When I called AIG didn’t offer much information and they asked for my grandfather’s death certificate and they also wanted to know who the executor of the estate is. Since my grandfather died more than 25 years ago I figured some of this information would be difficult to come up with. First off there was no executor to my grandfather’s estate but I did manage to find 4 of his death certificates in the house. I mailed one off to the insurance company and gave them a call in a few days. I found out that my grandmother was the beneficiary of the policy so now they wanted identical information about her because she died in 1993. My aunt who sold me my grandparent’s house was the executrix of my grandmother’s estate so a trip to Maryland where she lives provided me with all of my grandmother’s death certificates and paperwork. My aunt right away said that any money that was in the account should go to me. This was very gracious of her because when it comes to money and dead relatives experience has proven that the combination can be destructive to family relationships.

In the meantime my wife is sorting through old paperwork at home that belong to my grandparents that we have never thrown out and are stored in various places. Come to find out that a year previously another letter from AIG had arrived in our mailbox that we had never opened. It was addressed to my grandmother. Oh wonder of wonders. My wife hands it to me and I open the year old letter. It is the same type of letter that we received regarding my grandfather’s account but this one was for my grandmother. Somehow it got overlooked a year earlier. It was set aside to be opened later. Fortunately I had all of my grandmother’s paperwork given to me by my aunt so I sent everything to AIG to find out who the beneficiary of my grandmothers estate is. A turn out the beneficiary of her estate is my Mother. It just so happens that I am the executor of my mother’s estate and I have all of the papers proving that I am the administrator of her estate. Well to shorten the story a bit I am the beneficiary of the two accounts since all of the benefits would have gone to my mother anyway. But the cruncher in the story is that the total amount of money available in both accounts amounts to just over $600.00. This was a major disappointment. Both of these accounts were opened in 1946. AIG claims there was never any interest accrued on the accounts because they were not interest bearing accounts. And now to get the $600.00 death benefit, which I have not received to this date, I have a load of paperwork that needs to be sent to them. It’s just amazing to me that AIG could hold money belonging to my grandparents for 60 years and not think of something better to do with it that let it sit doing nothing. It may not have been an interest bearing account, but I know that money held by major financial institutions in any kind of an account does not just sit and do nothing. It draws interest. Perhaps not for the policy holder, but it certainly does for AIG.