How to keep crazy Mom's prying fingers off some assets?
January 30, 2008 7:39 PM   Subscribe

Disentanglement filter: My girlfriend has an inheritence, which is currently in the form of a stock portfolio which in her name, but her mom's name is also on it since she was under 18 when she got the inheritance (she is 21 now). Her mom is less than reasonable, and makes threats regarding said assets, so how can she (my gf) get the stuff to just be in her name, and keep the assets safe from her mom's prying fingers?

Additional info: This is in the USA, in Florida, the value of the assets is ~$30K, we aren't entirely opposed to the possibility of a legal remedy, but aren't even sure how to go about such a thing. Anyone with experience in such things have any ideas about how to go about this process? Surely this isn't too uncommon an issue....?
posted by gnomicPerfect to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Is mom on it as a trustee or as a co-owner? If she's a co-owner then the bad news is that there's nothing to do about altering the names on the account - gf cannot just arbitrarily remove mom's name. The good news is that they're both owners so gf could just liquidate or transfer the stocks to another account.

Beyond that, I'd suggest caution in any movements here. $30,000 may be a lot of money when you're 21 but over a lifetime, which is how long you're related to your family, it's not much at all.
posted by phearlez at 7:48 PM on January 30, 2008

I had stocks with my father's name on the account because I was under 18 when I obtained them. All I had to do to have his name removed was send a written request to the brokerage along with a photocopy of my driver's license showing my age. Your friend should just call the brokerage and ask what their procedure is. This is totally routine provided her mother is on the account as some sort of guardian, rather than as a joint account holder. If her mom is a joint account holder and won't sign the account over to your girlfriend, she'll probably need a lawyer.
posted by robinpME at 7:50 PM on January 30, 2008

Not my area, but why not simply call the brokerage firm or whoever is managing the portfolio and ask them to remove her name from the account? If she was initially granted access as a guardian I would assume that there shouldn't be a problem removing her without her consent at this time. That said I'd probably also ask them to add an additional security question to the account or move it to another management company since your girlfriend's mom presumably knows her mother's maiden name and SSN.
posted by frieze at 7:51 PM on January 30, 2008

This is my area. It all depends on the account titling. If its a Uniform Gift or Uniform Transfer account, no prob. They generally get some proof that she is the age of majority in your state - usually 18, set up a new account with just your GF's name on it, then transfer ("journal") the assets to the new account after your GF signs a statement ("letter of instruction") saying that's what she wants to do.

Look at an account statement. If it says "YOUR GF's MOM AS CUSTODIAN FOR YOUR GIRLFRIEND UNDER THE FLORIDA UNIFORM GIFT or TRANSFER FOR MINORS ACT" or something to that extent (an UTMA or UGMA account), then its fairly straightforward. The process would be similar if it was part of another trust not set up under the uniform standard.

If its a joint account, then its more complicated. You'll need a court order to remove another party from the account, and you would need to prove that the account was set up incorrectly as part of the inheritance. Or you could get the mom to authorize the move.

If the inheritance was correctly set up as a joint account, or the mother was given discretion, then you are probably out of luck.

If its a joint account, Phearlez, the girlfriend CAN sell the stocks but she cannot transfer monies out (a check) or transfer securities to a different, non-like titled account without both parties' approval.

Please mefi mail if you have any other questions.
posted by uaudio at 9:10 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

uaudio neatly covered the technicals, but I'd point out one thing:

$30k is only a lot of money if you're young. As such, even if mom's being a total bitch, I'd ask myself "would I do this over $300?" before I did it for the $30k. I know it seems like a big difference today, but $30k ain't squat for adults, and you'll have to live with your call for years.

That said, if I could get mom's name off of things without her being involved, I'd do so in a heartbeat.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:44 PM on January 30, 2008

$30k is only a lot of money if you're young.

Well, I'm 34, and it seems like a lot of money to me.

Anyway, it sounds like there might have been a provision in the will or trust that the funds would remain in trust until your GF's 21st bday-- otherwise at 18 there would not have been reason for the bank to add mom under the UTMA or UGMA.

In terms of the personal issues... If she lets her mom get away with stealing her money, why would that be a good thing for the relationship? Better for your GF to clear up the problem and demonstrate that she's an adult and her mother can't push her around. That will be better for the relationship in the long run than just taking her BS. In the short run it might cause problems, of course.
posted by miss tea at 4:20 AM on January 31, 2008

Thanks for the clarification, uaudio - I assumed a brokerage account would operate on the same principles as a bank account, where both members had the freedom to conduct all business short of closing the account.

$30k doesn't seem like a trivial amount, but my point and I think Taco's point is that at 21 it seems like a life-changing amount, and worthy of drastic action. Which is can be, and may be, but we don't have enough information here to know exactly what "threats regarding said assets" means. Maybe mom is just having trouble adjusting to her daughter being all growed up and handling it poorly. That's too bad, but using all he subtly of a sledgehammer in response risks endangering a relationship that will last a lot longer than 30k.
posted by phearlez at 6:46 AM on January 31, 2008

this is for a lawyer. Not askme
posted by Ironmouth at 7:21 AM on January 31, 2008

Ironmouth: This is definitely for a lawyer if its not an UTMA or UGMA account, otherwise its something my operations department sees almost every day at the firm where I work. The "uniform" nature of these accounts is why you do not need a lawyer to set them up. AskMe is fair.

Phearlez: It depends on the nature of the brokerage account. If the account has checkwriting privelege, or banking priveleges, she can write a check or go to an ATM if she has the checkbook or the ATM card and there is cash in the account to clear. However, if she needs the brokerage to cut her a check, it will be made out to both parties. Admittedly, a bank will sometimes cash it into her own account, but they aren't supposed to - YMMV. As for transferring, any compliance officer worth a damn would freak out if someone was trying to transfer jointly owned securities to an individual account, or non-like titled account.
posted by uaudio at 8:05 AM on January 31, 2008

$30k doesn't seem like a trivial amount, but my point and I think Taco's point is that at 21 it seems like a life-changing amount, and worthy of drastic action.

Exactly. At 21, it seems like it will change your life.

But really you're talking about a sum that will buy a moderately-priced car, or pay for a few classes at a state school.

It'd surely be convenient to have, but before talking any action, I'd first ask myself "Would I take this same action if the sum was $300."
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:28 PM on February 3, 2008

« Older What can I put around my sandwich?   |   Heard a great song at a US H& me... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.