DEAR HARRY: My father passed away in 2006. At the time of his death, we went over all his papers looking for every possible asset. My mother had vague recollections of a life-insurance policy, but we were unable to find any evidence of it - no policy, no checks to insurance companies, no bills. I even wrote to you about it, but even the sources you cited got us nowhere. This week, a major life-insurance company contacted us saying they had a record of a paid-up policy on his life with my mother as beneficiary. They asked for some proof of death so they could process the policy. I sent them a copy of the death certificate left over from when we probated his will. An agent from the company (with whom Dad never dealt in any other insurance matter) contacted us and told us that Dad had a 20-pay life-insurance policy [in which premiums must be paid for 20 years] for $100,000 that was fully paid many years ago. He said we'll get the money shortly. What is going on with such a late payment?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: For many decades, most life-insurance companies waited for a claim to be filed before they would pay the beneficiaries. They did very little to find beneficiaries, even after the insured person would have reached 115 years old. Now we are seeing a concerted effort to stop those tactics. If no claim was filed, the proceeds should go to the state, but few companies did this. Now more and more of them are searching death lists to see if the rightful beneficiaries can be found, and if not, transferring the money to the state as unclaimed. It's about time!