No beneficiary on traditional IRA. Now what?
July 31, 2014 10:40 AM   Subscribe

My mom's IRAs went to my dad. My dad put me down as beneficiary on all accounts yet bank is saying that there are no beneficiaries listed. I was there when all paperwork was signed.

My mom passed away in 2012 and any IRAs that were hers or had her name on as beneficiary went to my dad. My dad and I went to the bank to change all of this over and I know there was no way that zero beneficiary was given. I am an only child and any paperwork that had to take my mom's name off was changed to my dad and then myself as beneficiary (then my 5 year old son as last resort beneficiary).

My dad passed away Oct 2013. He had a will and a trust leaving me everything. I just got around to taking care of the IRAs he had and BOA just told me that no beneficiary was listed. I'm having a hard time believing that since I was there and I know my dad had all beneficiaries as me.

I'm at a loss on what to do. BOA just sent over the will and paperwork stating to stop all distributions since my dad has passed away but are insisting that there was no beneficiary listed. I wanted to roll this over into an inherited IRA and avoid the tax hit but the BOA rep said that I won't be allowed to change anything since there was no beneficiary.

I'm pissed that this happened because I know all bank paperwork was set up as my dad as primary and me as beneficiary. I was with him when this paperwork was filled out.

BOA said the case will close Oct 7 (close to the allotted year after death stretch). From my last paperwork of the IRA it said it could take 45 days to get the process rolling. Any ideas on how to handle this one?
posted by stormpooper to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you seen a copy of the original paperwork that was filled out? It could be that you were listed there but that information never made it into some computer. I would request (or have a lawyer request) a copy of the original application.
posted by procrastination at 10:52 AM on July 31, 2014

BOA are a bunch of fucking idiots who couldn't find their ass with both hands. Deep breath, you can and will make them fix this.

Request the original paperwork in writing.

Go to whatever branch you signed it at and find the banker, if they're still there, and enlist their help.

Go online and look for other people who had a similar problem, particularly those who were able to resolve it by escalating up the food chain. You want the number for the personal assistant of IRAs or whatever. There are whole forums devoted to BofA.

Go to your state banking commission and file a formal complaint. today. In fact get whatever lawyer is involved with your dads estate to do this.
posted by fshgrl at 10:56 AM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]

As additional input to those who might ask why it makes a difference, since the will gives you the IRA anyway: It does make a difference, because if you receive the funds as a beneficiary, you can roll them into your own IRA and stretch out the payouts (and taxes) as long as permissible for your own account; whereas if the IRA goes through probate before it comes to you, the IRS requires it to be paid out to you over no more than five years.

So, yes, seconding the above, get the paperwork and escalate. See if you can reconstruct exactly when you visited the bank with your dad, and who you met with. That might help them find the stuff as well.
posted by beagle at 11:03 AM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yea even my financial planner person said "do not show them the trust because they'll force you into a payout." So I just showed them the will saying I'm inheriting all. They said so what, no beneficiary, no matter when it comes to trying to roll it into an inherited IRA.

I do have some of the original paperwork and I'll have to look again but I didn't see anything about beneficiaries just "take my mom's name off since she is deceased." It was a big pain in the ass process from what I remember because the BOA rep was confused as to what I'm asking (probably expains this f'in mess). I'll write/call them about the originals they received.

I know that this should have been taken care of as soon as he died but it's been a whirlwind from my mom dying to taking care of my dad's health decline and eventual move in with me and my husband to a new house and then his hospice and death, then selling his house and other estate wrangling. Knowing I had a year w/ the stretch I jut got to it. It was awesome that the banker reminded me I should have taken care of this right after he died. No shit, lady.
posted by stormpooper at 11:48 AM on July 31, 2014

If your mom was still listed as an owner then your dad may have had to file a "Change of Domicile' which requires a Medallion signature (similar to a notarized sig, but harder to find someone who has a Medallion.) Do you recall anything like that? Ask the bank manager who is the Medallion signer for the branch, I believe they keep a log just like Nataries do.
posted by Gungho at 11:54 AM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

How much money is involved? The rule that applies when there is no proper designated beneficiary is that the money must be withdrawn from the IRA within five years of the participant's death. You can take a fraction each year, pay the tax, and then put the remainder into a Roth IRA. There are options. Talk to a knowledgeable lawyer or accountant.
posted by yclipse at 3:20 PM on July 31, 2014

Talk to your BOA branch/district counsel. Seriously, the people at the bank are going to be clueless. Get their attorney's number and get your CFP or father's attorney (the one who drafted the Trust) to call. It's their job(s). You shouldn't have to sort this out.
posted by tippy at 10:52 PM on July 31, 2014

Looked at the paperwork. It seems I assumed too much during the chaos.

The paperwork says "take my mom's name off of her IRAs and put my dad's name on them as beneficiary" (why this was the paperwork, I have no idea.)

What I wanted it to say was "take my mom's name off because she died. Put my dad as primary". I assumed I was beneficiary on ALL financial accounts because for every other account they had, this is how it was set up. I only had all accounts take my mom's name off and put my dad's name as primary and me as beneficiary. The CDs, that was a co-ownership.

What I looked at the fine print it says "for additional beneficiaries---please fill out a separate form" meaning when they took my mom's name off, put my dad's name on--he should have been a primary holder and a blank line for "now who do you want as a beneficiary" should have been on there.

Their form was confusing and I assumed that all was okeedokee by putting my dad as primary on my mom's IRAs.

My mom died in 2012 and I took care of her financials w/ my dad knowing his CHF was so bad he could die soon too. We had his will, trust, and all accounts fixed accordingly. Then I was thrown into managing his healthcare every day from 3 doc visits a week, to pharma management, to shopping/cleaning his house, to multiple ambulance/ER visits to him living in my home and caretaking him then him being hospice and dying.

So in between the mess from the day my mom died to the day my dad died---I guess I missed the whole fine print b.s. Going to talk with a financial/tax expert to see how I can figure this out like Yclipse mentioned.

Annoying. Thanks for the help. I guess I assumed too much including a BOA rep helping me through this process on what needed to get done. How anyone couldn't ask "so...he doesn't want ANY beneficiaries on this form?" is just shitty customer service. Oh well. Relying on others winds up like this.

Could kick myself.
posted by stormpooper at 8:40 AM on August 1, 2014

Please don't kick yourself. You are not alone. There was a 12 year lapse between my father's death and my mums. Her insurance still listed him as the sole beneficiary. I had to dig deep into savings just to bury the poor gal because that insurance was supposed to be just for that. The rest of the stuff we had the proper beneficiaries on one of three mutual funds and one of two annuities. (Oh, and the lawyer who wrote up the will left off a grandchild). None of these were caught. Ship happens. So does probate...
posted by Gungho at 11:12 AM on August 1, 2014

The last ditch effort is to get the affidavit showing I'm executor, ask them to see what the original IRA listed as beneficiary (or even contingent) and see if there is anyway I was listed. My financial planner said that if that is the case and I can get to corporate, I may have a shot at saying they screwed up. It's a big stretch but it doesn't hurt to see if it will work. Otherwise I have to cash it in. It's not a huge IRA but still...missing out on the stretch would be shitty.
posted by stormpooper at 9:42 AM on August 11, 2014

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