Author Topic: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?  (Read 2941 times)

Alternatepriorities

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What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« on: October 08, 2023, 07:24:39 PM »
Been away from the forum for a couple months busy with a baby, construction, and my father's estate in roughly that order. On that last one I've run into a bit of an issue with Wells Fargo.

My father had several accounts with them all of which have been ridiculously more difficult to process that the accounts at other institutions. The last one I'm still struggling with is an IRA. There were beneficiaries list and we all dutifully filled out the required paperwork and the vast majority of the assets were transferred accordingly. However WF deemed a small number of securities to be indivisible and without saying anything just left them in the account. After months running their silly obstacle course trying to get the money to transfer out (silliest excuse to date was my signature was too good so they thought it was digitally rendered rather than wet) I finally got them to except the paper work only for the receiving account to have been closed because i promptly transferred the first assets to Vanguard. At this point I'd have been better off getting a minimum wage job for the hours I've put in trying to transfer the assets. Which leaves me to wonder what happens if I just stop trying to deal with them. We're talking a couple hundred dollars worth of assets.

Thanks!


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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2023, 07:49:51 PM »
Well, for just any account, they would keep trying to contact you for the legally required number of years, then the asset would eventually be turned over to the state's unclaimed property department.

I have no idea how your specific situation would complicate things.  Would it be in your father's name?  The beneficiaries?  They would liquidate before they turned over the money, as SOP.  Also, the process would normally take a number of years.  I have no idea if being part of an estate (since WF knows this) may change or drag out the timeline.  Or, could it be sent to probate instead?  I have no idea.

My only run-in with unclaimed property was with a certificate for one share of Pixar, which I bought shortly after their merger with Disney was announced.  I was able to get the money, but only by turning in the certificate.  That would defeat the purpose--it's a souvenir of my first stock investment.  Eventually, it timed out along the legal lines, and became cash available to claim from the state, without having to surrender the certificate.

It's legally void now, but is unblemished, on my wall.  Voila!

Zamboni

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2023, 08:05:02 PM »
I had a lot of trouble with Wells Fargo getting them to remove my PMI . . . which resulted in me figuring out something that solved the problem very quickly thereafter. I will PM that information to you.

jnw

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2023, 08:26:20 PM »
How long does it typically take, after one passes, to get all brokerage assets transferred to the beneficiary?  Wouldn't the beneficiary just need to get the death certificate, mail it to the brokerage and then within a couple weeks have the cash?   Which brokerage is the best?  I was planning on putting virtually all of my investments in Vanguard.

My beneficiary can't handle a lot of stress and he might even give up if it is too complicated.  Maybe I should have him hire a lawyer to do all this for him, to guide him a long?

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2023, 08:41:04 PM »
It doesn't sound like your beneficiary should be the executor. The executor is the one who should be mailing death certificates and jumping through hoops so that all of the money is transferred to the right people. Name your beneficiary as desired and also be sure to have all of the information together in a place known to the executor. NOT in a safe deposit box at the bank! Somewhere in your house all neat and in an orderly manner.

Your beneficiary can't handle a lot of stress, and he will not be in an efficient state of mind after your death. if you have a decent amount of money, then I do strongly suggest having a different person or even a lawyer handle your estate to be sure that your beneficiary receives the money with as little personal effort as possible. It's fine and probably helpful for the beneficiary to also know the information, but get someone else tenacious enough to dot the i's and cross the t's.

You can also ask Vanguard what their procedure is so that it can be spelled out step-by-step in your important documents alongside the account numbers. I do know they can be a bit of a pain (mostly because they do not want to accidentally hand out money to the wrong person, which I fully appreciate.)

jnw

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2023, 08:50:43 PM »
I thought POD/TOD has nothing to do with an executor of the estate.  The beneficiary would be able to directly get the cash.  It wouldn't be in probate from my understanding?

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2023, 09:50:41 PM »
I thought POD/TOD has nothing to do with an executor of the estate.  The beneficiary would be able to directly get the cash.  It wouldn't be in probate from my understanding?

Correct in my experience. Though non-cash assets such as securities can transfer as is rather than being converted to cash.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2023, 09:52:57 PM »
I thought POD/TOD has nothing to do with an executor of the estate.  The beneficiary would be able to directly get the cash.  It wouldn't be in probate from my understanding?

That's true, but there still needs to be proof provided that you have expired. Someone has to do that part. And possibly fill out some additional forms. I hope that some day my executor will do that and save my grieving loved ones the hassle.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2023, 02:51:12 PM »
Well, for just any account, they would keep trying to contact you for the legally required number of years, then the asset would eventually be turned over to the state's unclaimed property department.

I have no idea how your specific situation would complicate things.  Would it be in your father's name?  The beneficiaries? They would liquidate before they turned over the money, as SOP.  Also, the process would normally take a number of years.  I have no idea if being part of an estate (since WF knows this) may change or drag out the timeline.  Or, could it be sent to probate instead?  I have no idea.

My only run-in with unclaimed property was with a certificate for one share of Pixar, which I bought shortly after their merger with Disney was announced.  I was able to get the money, but only by turning in the certificate.  That would defeat the purpose--it's a souvenir of my first stock investment.  Eventually, it timed out along the legal lines, and became cash available to claim from the state, without having to surrender the certificate.

It's legally void now, but is unblemished, on my wall.  Voila!

The bolded part is the answer I'm hoping for. Basically if ignoring the remaining balance forces them to spend a lot of personnel time to process and eventually give away the money that seems fair. I just want to be certain that WF doesn't get to keep the money. Ironically if they would have been willing to liquidate the assets this all would have been done 8 months ago.


This timeline so far going by memory:
oct '22 - Father passes
Feb '23 - I discover that since there are designated beneficiaries the account does not pass through probate.
Feb '23 - request assets be liquidated and passed to beneficiaries
Mar '23 - request denied assets must be transfer in kind
mar '23 - discover assets can in theory be transferred to another institution, but since some of the assets are WF specific those can only be transferred to WF accounts
mar '23 - Benficiaries open WF account and begin going round and round getting assets transferred... one example DB once had a WF account which he closed years ago. However on that account they had his SS wrong so they refuse to accept his application to open a new inherited IRA account until he'd spent hours finding someone who could clear their bad record.
Late Apr or early May '23 - yay all the beneficiaries the account should close on it's own
May or June '23 Liquidate the assets in my inherited IRA account and transfer it to Vanguard (for comparison this took a single call to vanguard to set up and after the first call I was able to set up a inherited Roth IRA there online in a few minutes)
June '23 - discover that there is still a couple hundred dollars in the IRA account in question as well as a few dollars left in the Roth IRA account. Both of which should now be empty.
July '23 - cleared the Roth IRA out. Yay $17.00 transferred. Instructions to do the same steps on the traditional fail to achieve results
July and August '23 repeatedly called ever 10-12 business days wait on hold for an hour to be given a new excuse why the money wasn't transferring.
Sept '23 - Finally told the reason the assets wouldn't transfer is because they could not be divided equally to the beneficiaries and I need a letter asking them to transfer the asset to a single account signed by all the beneficiaries. Pass around such a letter digitally. Letter rejected (after 10 days) because one of the dates isn't legible. Repeat with fixed date. 10 days later it's rejected because I forgot to date the claim form. Repeat with date on claim form. Rejected because my signature is too nice (I typed the info the PDF, printed the signature page, signed it, scanned it and sent it back this has never been a problem previously). Resubmit the form with all hand writing
Oct - '23 Informed that the account I tried to transfer it to has been closed even though when I last spoke to brokerage services in Sept I specifically asked them to keep the empty account open until this transfer could be completed.

And that brings me to last nights post...

Alternatepriorities

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2023, 02:53:48 PM »
How long does it typically take, after one passes, to get all brokerage assets transferred to the beneficiary?  Wouldn't the beneficiary just need to get the death certificate, mail it to the brokerage and then within a couple weeks have the cash?   Which brokerage is the best?  I was planning on putting virtually all of my investments in Vanguard.

My beneficiary can't handle a lot of stress and he might even give up if it is too complicated.  Maybe I should have him hire a lawyer to do all this for him, to guide him a long?

To be clear this account is not part of the estate. In theory it should have passed with minimal effort to the beneficiaries. My father also had an account with Charles Schwab and that one took less than 6 weeks to get access to. They assigned a single point of contact would would call me within 24-48 hours if anything was needed from me.

Wells Fargo gave me a money order for the 96 cents in my father's savings account.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2023, 03:00:02 PM »
I thought POD/TOD has nothing to do with an executor of the estate.  The beneficiary would be able to directly get the cash.  It wouldn't be in probate from my understanding?

That's true, but there still needs to be proof provided that you have expired. Someone has to do that part. And possibly fill out some additional forms. I hope that some day my executor will do that and save my grieving loved ones the hassle.

The other major delay that pushed things to Feb was the funeral home "forgetting" to send in the death certificate information to the state. They told me it would take 6-8 weeks to receive the death certificate. Like a fool I waited until the full 8 weeks had passed to call them and ask where it was. And was told "oops we didn't send it in and the doctor who confirmed your father's death is out for the next week+ so he can't sign the paperwork." So it took over 12 weeks to get the death certificate.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2023, 03:12:03 PM »
Well, for just any account, they would keep trying to contact you for the legally required number of years, then the asset would eventually be turned over to the state's unclaimed property department.

I have no idea how your specific situation would complicate things.  Would it be in your father's name?  The beneficiaries? They would liquidate before they turned over the money, as SOP.  Also, the process would normally take a number of years.  I have no idea if being part of an estate (since WF knows this) may change or drag out the timeline.  Or, could it be sent to probate instead?  I have no idea.

My only run-in with unclaimed property was with a certificate for one share of Pixar, which I bought shortly after their merger with Disney was announced.  I was able to get the money, but only by turning in the certificate.  That would defeat the purpose--it's a souvenir of my first stock investment.  Eventually, it timed out along the legal lines, and became cash available to claim from the state, without having to surrender the certificate.

It's legally void now, but is unblemished, on my wall.  Voila!

The bolded part is the answer I'm hoping for. Basically if ignoring the remaining balance forces them to spend a lot of personnel time to process and eventually give away the money that seems fair. I just want to be certain that WF doesn't get to keep the money. Ironically if they would have been willing to liquidate the assets this all would have been done 8 months ago.


This timeline so far going by memory:
oct '22 - Father passes
Feb '23 - I discover that since there are designated beneficiaries the account does not pass through probate.
Feb '23 - request assets be liquidated and passed to beneficiaries
Mar '23 - request denied assets must be transfer in kind
mar '23 - discover assets can in theory be transferred to another institution, but since some of the assets are WF specific those can only be transferred to WF accounts
mar '23 - Benficiaries open WF account and begin going round and round getting assets transferred... one example DB once had a WF account which he closed years ago. However on that account they had his SS wrong so they refuse to accept his application to open a new inherited IRA account until he'd spent hours finding someone who could clear their bad record.
Late Apr or early May '23 - yay all the beneficiaries the account should close on it's own
May or June '23 Liquidate the assets in my inherited IRA account and transfer it to Vanguard (for comparison this took a single call to vanguard to set up and after the first call I was able to set up a inherited Roth IRA there online in a few minutes)
June '23 - discover that there is still a couple hundred dollars in the IRA account in question as well as a few dollars left in the Roth IRA account. Both of which should now be empty.
July '23 - cleared the Roth IRA out. Yay $17.00 transferred. Instructions to do the same steps on the traditional fail to achieve results
July and August '23 repeatedly called ever 10-12 business days wait on hold for an hour to be given a new excuse why the money wasn't transferring.
Sept '23 - Finally told the reason the assets wouldn't transfer is because they could not be divided equally to the beneficiaries and I need a letter asking them to transfer the asset to a single account signed by all the beneficiaries. Pass around such a letter digitally. Letter rejected (after 10 days) because one of the dates isn't legible. Repeat with fixed date. 10 days later it's rejected because I forgot to date the claim form. Repeat with date on claim form. Rejected because my signature is too nice (I typed the info the PDF, printed the signature page, signed it, scanned it and sent it back this has never been a problem previously). Resubmit the form with all hand writing
Oct - '23 Informed that the account I tried to transfer it to has been closed even though when I last spoke to brokerage services in Sept I specifically asked them to keep the empty account open until this transfer could be completed.

And that brings me to last nights post...
My sympathies. That is So Frustrating.

Alternatepriorities

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2023, 04:30:36 PM »
Talked to WF advisors. First they told me the account wasn't closed. When I pointed out that I have two written sources from WF saying it has been they went to talk to a transfer specialist... account is still open but can't be transfer to because it's in the process of being closed since i instructed the full balance to be transferred to vanguard. Was told I needed to submit a written letter requesting they reopen it so the transfer can take place and was "promised" a note would be added to the account that I should not be charged a second account closing fee should I transfer the assets out of the account. First i was told I would have to fax this letter to them, when I pointed out it was a 20 minute drive to a fax machine suddenly it was okay to upload it through their website but I have to call them back in 2-3 days to confirm the account it reactivated before trying the transfer again. Today was the second "specialist" on the phone who either cannot or will not tell me what would happen if i just ignore the remaining balance.

JNW - The one thing I feel fairly certain of is that your beneficiaries will be better off if you don't die with money in a WF account.

Zamboni

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2023, 05:28:57 PM »
Good grief, what a timeline.

You should definitely just copy this entire thread or at least your posts in it and send it as an attachment to the email address I PM'ed you along with a brief email about your good faith effort and your concern that you may have to file complaints with the agencies I mentioned in the PM. They are not afraid of you . . . they are somewhat responsive to gigantic fines from regulatory agencies.

Wells Fargo may be the worst of the worst of the banks. They are truly awful.

reeshau

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2023, 06:18:30 PM »
I wonder how much of here shenanigans are over-engineered / fighting the last war / futile plugging-culture-gaps-with-process from the days they opened millions of phantom customer accounts?  Some of these things, like digital signatures, are the kind of thing that must have been rampant.  And they are overdue with their regulators in really fixing the problem.

Ripe conditions to go overboard.  And alienate anyone who didn't notice or stuck with them through the "you're just dats to get our bonus" phase.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2023, 11:47:09 PM »
JNW - The one thing I feel fairly certain of is that your beneficiaries will be better off if you don't die with money in a WF account.

Thank you, I've journaled this. No Wells Fargo! They've always been crooked.  Remember all those fake accounts they were opening in peoples' names?

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2023, 12:20:42 AM »
I wonder how much of here shenanigans are over-engineered / fighting the last war / futile plugging-culture-gaps-with-process from the days they opened millions of phantom customer accounts?  Some of these things, like digital signatures, are the kind of thing that must have been rampant.  And they are overdue with their regulators in really fixing the problem.

Ripe conditions to go overboard.  And alienate anyone who didn't notice or stuck with them through the "you're just dats to get our bonus" phase.

I've also wondered this quite a bit. I have been a customer for a long time now (20 years) and they didn't do any of the bogus accounts stuff to me. I was busy living in a remote village when the news broke of their account scandal and never got around to moving my accounts after I made it back to civilization. It really seems like a lot of the hoops they have put in place would in theory make it harder to pull of that kind of accounts shenanigans again, but it's also to the point of being ridiculous.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2023, 12:21:48 AM »
Good grief, what a timeline.

You should definitely just copy this entire thread or at least your posts in it and send it as an attachment to the email address I PM'ed you along with a brief email about your good faith effort and your concern that you may have to file complaints with the agencies I mentioned in the PM. They are not afraid of you . . . they are somewhat responsive to gigantic fines from regulatory agencies.

Wells Fargo may be the worst of the worst of the banks. They are truly awful.

I was thinking about that as I wrote up the timeline here. It's a good starting place for a slightly more formal write up to try and get their attention a little higher up the chain.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2023, 12:09:18 PM »
I thought POD/TOD has nothing to do with an executor of the estate.  The beneficiary would be able to directly get the cash.  It wouldn't be in probate from my understanding?
...
That's true, but there still needs to be proof provided that you have expired. Someone has to do that part. And possibly fill out some additional forms. I hope that some day my executor will do that and save my grieving loved ones the hassle.

it should be easy and quick once you have a death certificate.  My sisters and I showed up at Fidelity Service Center together as soon as we had my dad's death certificate.  We got paid that day.  Well, iirc they transferred  money to our individual Fidelity accounts and some of us had to set up an account first.  Most banks were similarly easy.  One internet bank was a PITA bc there was no physical location and they wanted notarized signatures.  Then there was Bank of America...but even that was easier than probate.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2023, 01:08:21 PM »
I thought POD/TOD has nothing to do with an executor of the estate.  The beneficiary would be able to directly get the cash.  It wouldn't be in probate from my understanding?

That's true, but there still needs to be proof provided that you have expired. Someone has to do that part. And possibly fill out some additional forms. I hope that some day my executor will do that and save my grieving loved ones the hassle.

A death certificate which is issued by the coroner or the facility in which your loved one passes is proof. For a TOD you just send that and some proof of who you are. Nobody has to do anything to get the death certificate.
For example, to access my mothers bank accounts and investment accounts which were all TOD, I took the death certificate into the branch and my drivers license and walked out with a check. For investment accounts I did some paperwork on where I wanted the investments transferred. That's it!
TOD is stupidly simple and requires very little effort to obtain the money.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2023, 04:15:28 PM »
The assets did transfer finally. The securities it was invested in lost about 40% of their value between my first discovery that they had not transferred and when WF finally allowed the transfer. Granted it's still only a three figured loss, but it's still oddly frustrating. I'm thankful it wasn't a larger portion of the assets. The assets consisted of single shares in a few securities. I have not been given an explanation of why they couldn't split them to transfer 0.25 shares to each beneficiary as they did with several other securities. Only told that it was "impossible".

I appreciate everyone who chimed in and didn't want to leave the outcome hanging if anyone was curious. I've closed several of my WF accounts now, once the last few crumbs move to Vanguard I won't have any money in there that would cause this kind of issues for my beneficiaries should I meet an untimely end... I've narrowed the choices for new checking accounts down to two local credit unions and hope to move those by the end of Nov.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2023, 04:38:29 PM »
Thanks for the update. Iím glad it is finally resolved.

If you have any energy left after all of the hassle I wonder if you can write WF and explain why you have shut down all of your accounts and wonít be opening new ones ever? Perhaps a drop in the bucket towards getting them to shift their shitty policies.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2023, 05:32:49 PM »
Thanks for the update. Iím glad it is finally resolved.

If you have any energy left after all of the hassle I wonder if you can write WF and explain why you have shut down all of your accounts and wonít be opening new ones ever? Perhaps a drop in the bucket towards getting them to shift their shitty policies.

I am planning to. Need to do it while it's still fresh in my mind but keep procrastinating.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2023, 06:20:00 PM »
Thanks for the update. Iím glad it is finally resolved.

If you have any energy left after all of the hassle I wonder if you can write WF and explain why you have shut down all of your accounts and wonít be opening new ones ever? Perhaps a drop in the bucket towards getting them to shift their shitty policies.

I am planning to. Need to do it while it's still fresh in my mind but keep procrastinating.

That is absurd what you went through. When you write the complaint, address it to the CEO. They probably have an entire team dedicated to specifically handle any complaint letter sent to the CEO. I know my massive Fortune 100 company did.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2023, 08:57:39 AM »
Thanks for the update. Iím glad it is finally resolved.

If you have any energy left after all of the hassle I wonder if you can write WF and explain why you have shut down all of your accounts and wonít be opening new ones ever? Perhaps a drop in the bucket towards getting them to shift their shitty policies.

I am planning to. Need to do it while it's still fresh in my mind but keep procrastinating.
Let us be your collective accountability partner. Report back how it goes! :)

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2023, 07:44:19 AM »
Thanks for the update. Iím glad it is finally resolved.

If you have any energy left after all of the hassle I wonder if you can write WF and explain why you have shut down all of your accounts and wonít be opening new ones ever? Perhaps a drop in the bucket towards getting them to shift their shitty policies.

I am planning to. Need to do it while it's still fresh in my mind but keep procrastinating.

That is absurd what you went through. When you write the complaint, address it to the CEO. They probably have an entire team dedicated to specifically handle any complaint letter sent to the CEO. I know my massive Fortune 100 company did.

You should just report the incident to FINRA. They have an investor complaint center that is for this sort of thing.

My mother had some investments with Edward Jones and I had a difficult time getting them moved to my Fidelity accounts. It was similar to what the OP described. Mostly disorganization within EJ that caused delays but was also designed to delay the movement of money out of their accounts. Plus they wanted $750 to process a TOD. I filed a complaint with FINRA.

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2023, 12:53:25 AM »
[
Let us be your collective accountability partner. Report back how it goes! :)

I sent a letter with a complete summary of the events to the board fo directors.

ysette9

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #27 on: November 05, 2023, 06:52:21 AM »
[
Let us be your collective accountability partner. Report back how it goes! :)

I sent a letter with a complete summary of the events to the board fo directors.
Nicely done!


Alternatepriorities

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2023, 11:32:57 AM »
Further update...

Apparently my letter to the board was received and their solution was to go find last person who was able to help me and give it to him. He called me this morning... Just to be through he checked the balance in the account he'd transferred for me a few weeks ago... and he discovered that there is still $91 in the account. In his words "why is there money in here? This should be empty" He's looking into where it came from and why it didn't transfer.

reeshau

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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2023, 01:38:38 PM »
Further update...

Apparently my letter to the board was received and their solution was to go find last person who was able to help me and give it to him. He called me this morning... Just to be through he checked the balance in the account he'd transferred for me a few weeks ago... and he discovered that there is still $91 in the account. In his words "why is there money in here? This should be empty" He's looking into where it came from and why it didn't transfer.

No good deed goes unpunished!

Alternatepriorities

  • Handlebar Stache
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  • Posts: 1643
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Alaska
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Re: What happens to money left in an IRA of a deceased person?
« Reply #30 on: November 10, 2023, 02:48:02 PM »
Further update...

Apparently my letter to the board was received and their solution was to go find last person who was able to help me and give it to him. He called me this morning... Just to be through he checked the balance in the account he'd transferred for me a few weeks ago... and he discovered that there is still $91 in the account. In his words "why is there money in here? This should be empty" He's looking into where it came from and why it didn't transfer.

No good deed goes unpunished!

Lol fair... I was polite and we did talk for a bit about general themes and not just my case. It sounds like he specializes in sorting out cases that something went wrong with.