April 21, 2011
Q. I just created a revocable trust and was trying to change the ownership on my investment account and the company said they don’t let trusts own the accounts. What now?
A: I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble changing the ownership of your account. We have also encountered this on occasion and we are seeing a trend happening more frequently especially with online accounts. This issue is of particular concern because it is important that all your assets be owned in the right way to ensure that the estate plan you worked so hard to create will work the way you envision when you need it. If assets remain in your individual name they will be subject to probate if you die or become incapacitated.
There are several options to try, however, each has limitations.
In addition, the POD/TOD won’t help if the account holder becomes incapacitated instead of dying. This is where your Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) can come in handy – if the institution will accept it. If they will accept it then your agent will have access to the account funds on your behalf. If they won’t accept the DPA you may be stuck with using the probate court to open a conservatorship to manage the account. The time to ask about your DPA is at the same time you ask about the POD/TOD.
Don’t forget to keep a copy of any correspondence between you and the company and follow up to make sure your documents made it to their destination. I would also encourage you to send your correspondence in a trackable manner (e.g., certified, return receipt requested) in case there is any issue in the future with the company claiming they never received your documents.