It should be really simple, a loved one dies and the heirs would like to get access to the loved ones account. But wait, there is a growing trend with some brokerage firms that make it much slower and harder to get any information. A story in the Wall Street Journal indicated a qualified beneficiary waited almost one year to get access to funds they were entitled to. These firms have tight federal guidelines that may keep them from even providing statements or summary of holdings.
So what can you do to improve this situation?
- The most important step is to make sure beneficiary information on all taxable, IRA, Roth IRA and 401K accounts is completely up to date. Keep in mind that if the will beneficiary is different than the one shown on the account, the account rules NOT THE WILL!
- Tell your beneficiaries ahead of time that are named, no need to give them all the amounts or % details, just that they are listed.
- You might want to just put the brokerage account into a trust, therefore a trustee can just deal with it without the hassle and delays of probate.
- It is also helpful to put somewhat recent copies of all account statements in files along with other important papers.
Last but not least, make sure you have an “In Case of Emergency” documents as I outlined in my January 2, 2015 posting.