Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

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2quik6
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Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by 2quik6 »

My mother passed last year, my brother and I were left 50/50. There is one last brokerage account to settle, we initially contacted them as was told since there was not a beneficiary assigned, we would need to probate the will (this was the only investment act without a beneficiary so we had not probated it when we connected them). We had the will probated as a Monument of Title, I have now reached back out to the advisor for several weeks now, and am not getting a return call. I have called the firm, set on hold for more than 30 minutes to get transferred and sit on hold again for 30 minutes. I asked to have another advisor start this process since we really have not done any thing yet but notify them of my mothers death...was told that the person I have been leaving messages with was assigned the case...I explained that he is not returning call to me for the last 3 weeks now, could I speak to a manager about the situation...they refused and transferred me to the advisors VM....which I have his direct number, I did not sit on hold for an hour to just get his VM that I could have called in 10 seconds!!
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At this point, since the brokerage firm is not will to cooperate, what recourse do I have? Is there an attorney that handles these types of things? What is the kicker, is that I am the one who transferred part of my mother's assets to this firm and forget to set up the beneficiaries!! I should have just sold and moved everything out when she passed instead of trying to go through the right channels! And I have about half of my investments with them and cannot even get a returned call! All will be moved shortly and closed due to this difficultly!
Rob
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ipdiddly
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by ipdiddly »

Why not identify the brokerage firm you are dealing with. I think we all might like to know.

I presume this is not one of the major national firms like Vanguard or Fidelity because these firms are usually very helpful in transferring accounts to rightful beneficiaries. You just need to jump through the right hoops and get all the correct paperwork. Obviously, they must be very careful to insure that the claimant is a rightful claimant.

Not sure if it is practical for you, but if they won't return phone calls, then perhaps show up at their office. I would pick one of the main offices, not a small branch, and ask to speak to a manager.
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ipdiddly
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by ipdiddly »

2quik6 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:57 am We had the will probated as a Monument of Title
I'm not sure what that phrase means. Ordinarily, when you probate a will, the probate court appoints someone as the Executor or Administrator. That gives the person official status to handle the deceased's estate. No financial institution will talk to you without that appointment in hand.
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2quik6
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by 2quik6 »

Muniment of Title is basically a light probate for folks that have only investment assets and real property, and it does name the executors of the will which are joint between my brother and I.
There is no local branch to go into to discuss with someone or I would, I did not name the firm because it is Vanguard. I have called and asked to speak with a supervisor about this and have been refused. I have answered all of the security questions, I know everything about my mom's accounts, I did the investments in them. In hindsight, I should have just sold all of the assets, and moved the cash out, then just called them to close the account. I have investments at other institutions and I never liked how there was always a finance person always calling trying to upscale me on other offerings they have, something I liked about Vanguard because they never hasseled me other that or trying to get me to move my other accounts to them, or wanting me to come in periodically for a financial evaluation. Now I see the value in that and if I cannot get this resolved quickly, my investments will be exiting Vanguard as will my brother's, daughter and mother in laws. You would think with the assets we have with them, I would at least get a return call.
Rob
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Raymond
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by Raymond »

ipdiddly wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:48 am
2quik6 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:57 am We had the will probated as a Monument of Title
I'm not sure what that phrase means. Ordinarily, when you probate a will, the probate court appoints someone as the Executor or Administrator. That gives the person official status to handle the deceased's estate. No financial institution will talk to you without that appointment in hand.
I believe he meant muniment of title.
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ipdiddly
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by ipdiddly »

2quik6 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:57 pm
There is no local branch to go into to discuss with someone or I would, I did not name the firm because it is Vanguard. I have called and asked to speak with a supervisor about this and have been refused.
Well, that's disturbing. I've had accounts at Fidelity for many years and have always had good service. While I rarely go to one of their offices, it's nice to know that there is both a local office and a Boston office I can go to. I also have a Financial Advisor assigned to me, but if she's not available, the folks that answer the phones are usually very helpful.
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2quik6
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by 2quik6 »

ipdiddly wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:12 pm Well, that's disturbing. I've had accounts at Fidelity for many years and have always had good service. While I rarely go to one of their offices, it's nice to know that there is both a local office and a Boston office I can go to. I also have a Financial Advisor assigned to me, but if she's not available, the folks that answer the phones are usually very helpful.
Yes it is, I have had my Vanguard accounts for at least 26 years, never had an issue and have been considering consolidating some of my accounts to Vanguard. I have had great service from Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and somewhat ok service from Merrill, all of which have local offices. Vanguard does not, so I will have to reconsider :( I am very disappointed, but I have been reading more and more posts about the terrible service they have been getting and the terrible wait times any time they call in, all of which has been happening since the passing of Mr. Bogle.
Rob
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by lazynovice »

2quik6 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:57 pm Muniment of Title is basically a light probate for folks that have only investment assets and real property, and it does name the executors of the will which are joint between my brother and I.
There is no local branch to go into to discuss with someone or I would, I did not name the firm because it is Vanguard. I have called and asked to speak with a supervisor about this and have been refused. I have answered all of the security questions, I know everything about my mom's accounts, I did the investments in them. In hindsight, I should have just sold all of the assets, and moved the cash out, then just called them to close the account. I have investments at other institutions and I never liked how there was always a finance person always calling trying to upscale me on other offerings they have, something I liked about Vanguard because they never hasseled me other that or trying to get me to move my other accounts to them, or wanting me to come in periodically for a financial evaluation. Now I see the value in that and if I cannot get this resolved quickly, my investments will be exiting Vanguard as will my brother's, daughter and mother in laws. You would think with the assets we have with them, I would at least get a return call.
Have you followed all of these steps?

https://support.vanguard.com/triage/coo/EC9092EF
“I didn’t want my sailboat to be in the driveway when I died.” Nomadland
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2quik6
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by 2quik6 »

lazynovice wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:13 pm Have you followed all of these steps?

https://support.vanguard.com/triage/coo/EC9092EF
Yes, there is an advisor assigned from our contact back months ago before the will was probated, and he is the one not returning any calls for weeks now. Now that it is probated, we need to do the next steps to turn in the court documents that show the my brother and I are executors and naming us as 50/50 beneficiaries, but I am not just going to mail that in generically, he needs to call me for the next steps of the process.
Rob
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by backpacker61 »

I'm sorry this is happening to you, and sorry for your loss.

I had a death in the family last year. 75% of my parents' assets were at Vanguard, so I consolidated everything that wasn't there already into the trust brokerage account at Vanguard, before having them split the assets among the beneficiaries, into our own respective Vanguard accounts. It may have helped that Vanguard already had a copy of the trust document on file from when my father passed away some years ago.

Everyone I worked with at Vanguard, mostly in the concierge (onboarding) and trust departments, was very courteous and professional.

It's tax time now, and there is a pandemic in progress, so I expect that is affecting customer service at many of the brokerage firms.
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FoolStreet
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by FoolStreet »

2quik6 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 4:20 pm
lazynovice wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:13 pm Have you followed all of these steps?

https://support.vanguard.com/triage/coo/EC9092EF
Yes, there is an advisor assigned from our contact back months ago before the will was probated, and he is the one not returning any calls for weeks now. Now that it is probated, we need to do the next steps to turn in the court documents that show the my brother and I are executors and naming us as 50/50 beneficiaries, but I am not just going to mail that in generically, he needs to call me for the next steps of the process.
Sounds like you need to submit a change of ownership form. Personally, I would kick off emails.
lazynovice
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by lazynovice »

I think I would send everything on the page I sent you “generically.” Sounds like an overwhelmed or lazy rep has been assigned to you. Once you know they have the information, I would call again. If still no response or transfer to a manager, you can file a complaint with FINRA.

Right now, the rep can probably say- “I have no reason to talk to this person as they have not sent in the documents that show they have the authority to transfer the account or the tax ID number of the estate.”
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by Freetime76 »

I’ve not done this process at Vanguard, however here is my 2 cents:

1. Suggest printing out Vanguard’s form(s) and sending FedEx to the Vanguard address for estates. Signature required.

2. A phone conversation might be nice, but at this point, the objective is to complete the transfer. To that end, surely this can be done in writing on paper? (And must be in writing I’d assume I.e. for an estate, I could call and go over the process at TD Ameritrade or wherever...but in the end, I still had to do the forms).

3. Once you have sent all necessary documents by FedEx, suggest leaving a few pointed voicemails with the advisor assigned to you, and whatever answering service you can get. Tell them that a) it’s sent, and b) your next step is a complaint to FINRA, SEC, Papa Smurf and anyone else you can think of if they don’t handle this upon receipt.

The advisor may be put on leave for some reason, BUT COVID has been here a whole stinkin’ year. Any reasonable business does not have just one person - what if they quit? Business continues, they need to handle it. My bias is, if my rinky-dink little local restaurant and agricultural co-op and bank can function, a large brokerage like Schwab, Vanguard etc and banks like Ally and others should darn well have it figured out by now. :annoyed
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by birdsong »

No problems dealing with Vanguard when I was executor for my late father. IRA and taxable, named beneficiaries, all handled by Vanguard efficiently and quickly in 2018. Of course no pandemic then.

I've personally been a Vanguard fund holder since 1998. My Dad switched all his investments to Vanguard in 2001 after he asked me if I was happy with Vanguard. I've been happy since 1998 and my Dad was happy from 2001-2018.
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by bltn »

I ve been with Vanguard for more than 30 years and I have been happy with my service. I didn't t have a problem taking care of the estate transfers of my mom and dad and my mother in law.
It seems like the occasions when I call Vanguard, I ve been given the option of voicemail or speaking to a representative. If it were me in your position, and a rep told me only the person not returning my calls could handle my request, I would insist on speaking with a supervisor, and not hang up until I had.
Sorry for your loss.
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by Makefile »

2quik6 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:57 pm Muniment of Title is basically a light probate for folks that have only investment assets and real property, and it does name the executors of the will which are joint between my brother and I.
There is no local branch to go into to discuss with someone or I would, I did not name the firm because it is Vanguard. I have called and asked to speak with a supervisor about this and have been refused. I have answered all of the security questions, I know everything about my mom's accounts, I did the investments in them. In hindsight, I should have just sold all of the assets, and moved the cash out, then just called them to close the account. I have investments at other institutions and I never liked how there was always a finance person always calling trying to upscale me on other offerings they have, something I liked about Vanguard because they never hasseled me other that or trying to get me to move my other accounts to them, or wanting me to come in periodically for a financial evaluation. Now I see the value in that and if I cannot get this resolved quickly, my investments will be exiting Vanguard as will my brother's, daughter and mother in laws. You would think with the assets we have with them, I would at least get a return call.
This sounds really frustrating. However, I think it's worth pointing out that this isn't the proper way to handle this. You were never supposed to know or use the password or answers to the security questions in the first place. Vanguard has an Agent Authorization process to legitimately let someone else use your account online (and if this is what you meant I apologize).

I suspect what was supposed to happen was have the assets moved to a new account number, titled as Estate of X, with the proper paperwork in place so that the executor has access to the account and can sell or distribute the assets according to the will.
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2quik6
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by 2quik6 »

lazynovice wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 5:19 pm I think I would send everything on the page I sent you “generically.” Sounds like an overwhelmed or lazy rep has been assigned to you. Once you know they have the information, I would call again. If still no response or transfer to a manager, you can file a complaint with FINRA.

Right now, the rep can probably say- “I have no reason to talk to this person as they have not sent in the documents that show they have the authority to transfer the account or the tax ID number of the estate.”
I will look again, but when going through the steps on line for inheritance, it pretty much says if there were no named beneficiaries, you have to call them, does not have any further steps. But I will see if I can track down a transfer of ownership form online, and will complete it and send in a copy of the court papers from probate..That sounds like a good start. Thank You for that information and about the FINRA!
Rob
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2quik6
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by 2quik6 »

Makefile wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:30 pm This sounds really frustrating. However, I think it's worth pointing out that this isn't the proper way to handle this. You were never supposed to know or use the password or answers to the security questions in the first place. Vanguard has an Agent Authorization process to legitimately let someone else use your account online (and if this is what you meant I apologize).

I suspect what was supposed to happen was have the assets moved to a new account number, titled as Estate of X, with the proper paperwork in place so that the executor has access to the account and can sell or distribute the assets according to the will.
I had set up all of the accounts for my mother as I had Financial power of attorney, and did all of her investing...just my bone head failed to setup the beneficiaries properly. Looking back, I should have just converted everything to cash and moved it back to her checking account.
Rob
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by Minority Opinion »

Since Vanguard has made it exceedingly difficult to locate an email address for their compliance department, I would try a few things.

1) The next time you get someone on the phone at Vanguard, tell them that you would like to be transferred to the compliance department to make a customer complaint. I don't know if this will work, but it's worth a shot.

2) When you get the advisors voicemail again, give them a reasonable deadline to respond to you by and let them know that if they don't, you will be filing a complaint against the advisor personally with FINRA and the SEC.

3) Mail a letter to Vanguard outlining the situation and explicitly state that the letter is a customer complaint.

4) File a complaint with both FINRA and the SEC.
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by fourwheelcycle »

People are beginning to advise the OP to initiate a formal compliance complaint at Vanguard and contact FINRA and the SEC. That approach might work, but it may also add extra steps, and time, to the path to resolution. We do not know how this mixup started. If it began with the OP trying to log-in to their mother's account after she died, and then asking Vanguard for help in accessing the account, it could be that the OP is dead-ended in Vanguard's account security procedures. I suggest the OP should call Vanguard's Transition office at 877-320-4822 and ask for help, without recounting any difficulty in accessing their deceased mother's account. I have dealt with Vanguard's transition team on several occasions and I have found them to be very helpful. OP will need to provide a copy of the death certificate and evidence OP has been named by the probate court as executor. The transition office rep will mail, email, or provide download instructions for the OP to get the proper Vanguard forms that must be submitted. Once the death certificate, evidence of court executor appointment, and Vanguard forms are submitted things should proceed to resolution.
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2quik6
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by 2quik6 »

All that have replied thank you!
But with an unusual turn of events...I received a "SURVEY" this morning asking to rate my experience from my last call with them Friday where I was passed around, refused to let me talk to a supervisor, and passed me right back to the voice mail of the person not returning calls!
Well, the ratings were all 1's the poorest and explained what happened and what was about to happen with my accounts there....
Well the person that I talked to Friday called me this afternoon, and he had been reassigned to my case, this time he was super helpful, we got most all of the paper work completed, and I already had an EIN tax number assigned from earlier today from the IRS....scanned and sent in court papers, all that's left is for my brother to complete some forms!

All done in this 1 phone call....so all is good! I also asked him to left me talk to his supervisor about the awesome service I am now getting after the stumble the last few weeks, but did name the person who was not returning calls that needs to be addressed.

Thanks All!
Rob
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Re: Inherited non-IRA brokerage account, but firm is not responding, what course of action do I have?

Post by mr_brightside »

glad to hear you got it moving to resolution! sounds like a headache is getting taken care of. :happy

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