When we last left our local courthouse, I had been granted the surreal status of Legal Guardian to my daughter (who else would it be?), an Order to create a Blocked Account for her, and a Receipt and Acknowledgement of Deposit to be filled out by Fidelity and returned to the court by February. We can do this, I think, feeling we might be reaching the end of this nightmare. All we need now is the check.
I call Boeing to confirm they’ve received my guardianship documents and all is good to go on distribution of the funds. I talk to a nice man named London, who checks on things and tells me sympathetically that the date on my signature is not the same as the one from my notary, so I’ll have to resubmit the paperwork. I flash on the day I filled it out and went to my notary friend at work, who was out sick, so signed everything the next day. How did I know that would throw this whole thing out?
“But wait,” I say, flipping frantically through my documents. “That was the first round. I submitted another set after that,” and sure enough, I find that notarized signature page and the dates jive. “I’ll check with my supervisor,” says London, and puts me on hold. Many moments pass, I’m trying to make out the song that keeps looping, then:
London calling. “Good news,” he says. “We can use this set of documents. However, we have just missed the date for checks to go out, so yours will be mailed first of January.”
The following week, I receive a letter from Boeing telling me that distribution of funds have been >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
January arrives, as does the check. I head over to Fidelity on the 4th with the coveted funds, and deposit them into the IRA BDA account that the
guy I find out had no idea what he was talking about representative set up for my daughter over a year ago. They deposit the funds, but when I insist that they have to sign the Acknowledgement and Receipt, there’s a problem. Rep who makes the deposit is on the phone for nearly an hour with “Legal,” while I sit in a conference room and watch the stock market plunge on CNBC. Rep returns, apologizes, but Legal can’t sign it. They will write a letter.
“A letter’s not going to cut it,” I offer. I ask him for their number and he gives it to me. “By the way,” I say, taking my leave, “You put that deposit in as cash, right? Because it doesn’t look like a good time to be getting into the market.” He laughs. “Yes,” he confirms. “Cash.”
I return home and begin a series of phone calls. The number Rep has given me is to Retirement Services, and I get transferred again and again until one rep advises that I should put everything in writing and mail to Fidelity’s main office in Cincinnati. I itemize what is required:
- Establish Guardianship with Superior Court;
- Establish a blocked account for deposit of funds;
- Attach the Court Order to a Receipt and Acknowledgment of Order for The Deposit of Money Into Blocked Account form (copies attached), signed by depository (Fidelity).
I remind them to look at the Acknowledgement, which must be signed within 15 days of the deposit and returned to Court. I suggest a letter is not sufficient, but if that’s all they can do, be sure to include “Blocked Account” in the correspondence. Over a week later, I receive a letter from Client Services, saying the money has indeed been deposited. There is no mention of Blocked Account or the Receipt and Acknowledgement. Thanks for nothing.
Meanwhile, I’ve been doing research online, and find that the blocked account I should have opened and
CLUELESS Fidelity representative should have known, was at a commercial bank, a blocked savings account for a minor. I take all my documentation to Chase and meet with the Branch Manager, who tells me Chase does handle these accounts, but they are pretty uncommon, so her office will have to consult with their guardianship department. She makes copies of all of my documents, and assigns one of her staff to the opening of the account, as soon as Fidelity releases the funds. She suggests perhaps there is a grace period, because it’s only been two weeks since the deposit?
I call Retirement Services again, and I’m switched from one representative to another until I land in the Inheritance division. I’m told the money is now in an IRA, tax-deferred blocked account, and cannot be accessed without a court order.
“But you never signed the Acknowledgement,” I protest, “So the account is not technically linked with the original court order.” More holds, more representatives, until I’m assigned to someone with an actual extension number, who says he’ll see what he can do.
But it’s the same outcome. “You can only get the money out of the account with a court order.” Now I’m losing it. This is bullshit, I say more than once. Fidelity hasn’t signed anything to LINK them to the court order. I ask to speak to a supervisor and wait. Finally, a woman comes on the line, identifying herself as a Supervisor, I try to get somewhere with her, but it’s no-go. When I say Fidelity made a mistake, this is the wrong kind of account, she gets defensive. “Where did Fidelity make a mistake?” she asks. “You itemized everything in your letter, we did exactly what you asked us to do.”
“No,” I counter. “No one from Fidelity has signed the Acknowledgement and Receipt that I am supposed to turn in to the court and now my daughter’s money is locked in a retirement account instead of a savings. She’s 13, why would someone put her in a retirement account?”
Supervisor is non-plussed and continues to say the money cannot be released without a court order. We go back-and-forth until she says she will take the documents to Legal and get them to sign the Acknowledgement so that I can at least submit that to the Court.
Then, the kicker. She seems to suddenly realize that this account, being an IRA, will be subject to required distributions of a certain percent every year, each requiring a court order to release. She does the math and it’s approximately $100 a year.
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “Now I’ll be required to go to court once a year for five years to acquire a court order to take out $100 each time?”
“I’m afraid so.”
Supervisor asks me to fax my letter and the Order to her, and I do. I get a call later saying a letter already went out, with the signed Acknowledgement and specific instructions about withdrawals. The letter arrives, with the signed Acknowledgement, and I return to the courthouse to file it.
Whilst in line at Probate, I start chatting with the woman in front of me, who turns out to be a lawyer! I describe the circus I’ve joined trying to get this money, and she suggests I might want to file an Ex Parte Petition to Withdraw Funds From A Blocked Account and get the judge to release the funds from Fidelity. I can do that?
She tells me to download the form from the Internet, look at the court’s self-help tab, it costs $60 to file, but might be worth it. I can’t stop thanking her, and once I’ve filed the bloody Acknowledgement, head home to explore this new avenue.
Sure enough, there’s form MC-357, fillable, and the instructions tell me to also fill out MC-358, the Order, with duplicate copies. I check out the Probate window hours, 8-8:30, and head over there next morning once I drop off the kids in carpool. I figure I’ll file this sucker, see if it flies, and if the judge says yes, it’s a win, if she says no, I’m no worse off for trying. I write out a check for $60, wait in line, the clerk is friendly and tells me to take my documents to Room 260. Wait, what?
Room 260 is a teeny room where one has to check in on a computer and stand in line with about a dozen other people jammed into this space. When I get to the desk, the clerk asks for my Petition and Order, original and copies, and I oblige.
“You might want to get something to eat or drink,” she says. “It’ll be about 20 minutes.”
Three hours later, still waiting, but I’ve made some friends, all lady lawyers, working in Probate. They all have info for me. We debate the advantages of taking the money out or just getting a court order every year. We discuss how absurd this whole thing has been, especially with all the other dire, tragic, and real-life situations unfolding around us. Finally, my name is called, a Probate person shows me the order, says the earliest trial date I can get is in April, I say I don’t want a hearing date, just a transfer of funds, she says the judge won’t transfer the funds because of the possibility of tax issues. I tell Probate person that Fidelity has assured me that if it is done as soon as possible, we are still in a window that there will be no tax issues, so back she goes to speak to the judge again.
Another hour passes. Probate person comes out again, my name is still crossed out, the judge will only grant the Order if Fidelity transfers the funds straight to Chase, it’s that or wait until April for a hearing. I take the Order. I announce this decision to my new lady lawyer friends, and they agree it’s probably the best. One who was there earlier in the day but had to attend a hearing rejoins us.
“Wait, how much was the amount of the distribution?” she asks. I tell her $5,000, and she whips open her laptop, punches a few keys and says, “Probate Section Code 34-12 says any amount $5000 and under doesn’t require a guardianship status, the money should be released to the parent. You should definitely lodge a complaint with Boeing. They have lawyers over there who should know better.”
YOU BET THERE WILL BE A COMPLAINT.