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Finding a 'lost' CD
Old 06-07-2020, 10:19 AM   #1
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Finding a 'lost' CD

A good friend of mine passed away at 99 in March. Not related to COVID. Her body just pooped out.

She was from PA but lived in FL for the last 35 years of her life. In 1991, she arranged for a prepaid funeral in PA. To fund it, she purchased two burial reserve CD's, one for $2,000 and one for $1,000. The words 'burial reserve' are printed on the CD under her name and above her address. The initial rate was 6.3%.

Upon her passing, her son who still lives in PA and has the original CD certificates, went to cash them out. The problem is that Wells Fargo says they have no record of them. The bank ownership trail of the CD's is:
Fidelity Bank in PA - original purchase
First Union bought Fidelity
Wachovia bought First Union
Wells Fargo bought Wachovia

The last document I can find related to the CD's is a 2008 1099-INT from Wachovia in her old tax returns. Wachovia would have been Wells Fargo by the time the 2009 1099-INT's were mailed out. Coincidentally, she moved at the end of 2009 so her 1099-INT mailed in 2010 should have been sent to a new address. She moved to a new apartment (the neighboring building) in the same complex where we both lived. She lived in the first unit for 20 years and in the second unit for 6 years before moving to an ALF.

I spoke to the folks at the Florida unclaimed property office. They searched by her name (very unusual) and her SSN and they found nothing. I found $27 under my name! Wells Fargo supposedly had their unclaimed property group do a search and they found nothing. Basically, "Too bad, so sad" was the bank manager's response to her son. The CD's collected interest at least until 2008, so for approximately 17 years. The 'payment method' on the CD's was listed as 'REINV' so they definitely grew from the initial $3,000 investment. Even if Wells Fargo lost track of her when she moved, why weren't the funds placed in FL unclaimed property years ago?

A friend who worked in banking recommended her son file a complaint with the Comptroller of the Currency. I called them and confirmed this type of issue is something they would address. I filled out the complaint paperwork for her son (who is 78) and he will be signing the complaint form and mailing it in next week.

Any other ideas about what to do?
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Burial CD Certificate.pdf (237.0 KB, 64 views)
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Old 06-07-2020, 11:39 AM   #2
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The first thing that occurred to me was that they were cashed out at some point. That is why no record exists.
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Old 06-07-2020, 12:04 PM   #3
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The first thing that occurred to me was that they were cashed out at some point. That is why no record exists.
Wouldn't the original certificates have had to have been presented to cash them out? Wells Fargo isn't claiming they were cashed out. They just say they have no record of them.

And I'm 99.9% sure she didn't cash them out for several reasons. One, she didn't need the money. Two, the prepaid funeral was something very important to her and those CD's were part of that package. Three, it's almost certain she would have discussed it with her son who is her only child.
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Old 06-07-2020, 12:33 PM   #4
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Did you check the PA unclaimed property office too? The original bank was located there, so maybe there was an error when they escheated the funds and they sent them to PA instead of FL.

I also wonder if, at some point, one of the banks did away with this type of CD and when hers matured they just deposited the funds into her existing cash accounts. The IRS can provide 10 years of tax transcripts (form 4506-T), so you might be able to see when the last 1099 was issued if you (or her son) request those. No idea if that'll help, but it's free.
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Old 06-07-2020, 02:04 PM   #5
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you have the originals? that should be good enough for small claims court.
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Old 06-07-2020, 02:08 PM   #6
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Wouldn't the original certificates have had to have been presented to cash them out? Wells Fargo isn't claiming they were cashed out. They just say they have no record of them.

And I'm 99.9% sure she didn't cash them out for several reasons. One, she didn't need the money. Two, the prepaid funeral was something very important to her and those CD's were part of that package. Three, it's almost certain she would have discussed it with her son who is her only child.
What is more likely: multiple systems showing no record or over decades of time someone cashes them out?

I had a friend handling her fatherís estate and they were shocked to find two life policies buried in his papers both with a fairly high value. They had all the paperwork and upon contacting the insurance company, found out their father had cashed them in years ago though he retained the hard copy of the policies.
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:25 PM   #7
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you have the originals? that should be good enough for small claims court.
That's a good idea if I can do it in Florida as his representative. He wouldn't have the patience to do it himself in PA. I would have to come up with an estimated 2020 value. I guess I could estimate using the prime rate for each of the years. It's a low rate for a lot of years but I think it would be defensible.

Speaking of patience, I'll have to post the saga of obtaining the Order of Summary Administration that was required to change ownership of her Vanguard mutual fund to him. She had set everything else up to transfer to him upon her death except for that mutual fund (about $45,000). It took me about a month to get the paperwork all correct but I did it!
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:32 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by COcheesehead View Post
What is more likely: multiple systems showing no record or over decades of time someone cashes them out?

I had a friend handling her fatherís estate and they were shocked to find two life policies buried in his papers both with a fairly high value. They had all the paperwork and upon contacting the insurance company, found out their father had cashed them in years ago though he retained the hard copy of the policies.
Did the insurance company provide proof of the cashing out ?
I suppose a stop to paying the annual fee (if not fully paid policies) would lend support to the insurance company claim.

I'm naturally suspicious of insurance companies, as many have been caught doing things to avoid payment. And I worked with an ex-agent who detailed to me various stories of how they got bonuses for denying death claims and would deny repeatedly, ask for more proof of death, and then deny receiving the proof for years.
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:34 PM   #9
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Did the insurance company provide proof of the cashing out ?
I suppose a stop to paying the annual fee (if not fully paid policies) would lend support to the insurance company claim.

I'm naturally suspicious of insurance companies, as many have been caught doing things to avoid payment. And I worked with an ex-agent who detailed to me various stories of how they got bonuses for denying death claims and would deny repeatedly, ask for more proof of death, and then deny receiving the proof for years.
I donít think there was any issue with proof of payment.

My own experience with death claims, 3 of them, were handled professionally and relatively quickly.
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:42 PM   #10
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What is more likely: multiple systems showing no record or over decades of time someone cashes them out?

I had a friend handling her fatherís estate and they were shocked to find two life policies buried in his papers both with a fairly high value. They had all the paperwork and upon contacting the insurance company, found out their father had cashed them in years ago though he retained the hard copy of the policies.
Yes, it is always possible she cashed them in but I can't think of a reason why she would do it. Her prepaid funeral was important to her. She remarked to me more than a few times over the 11 years I knew her (2009 to 2020), that she would be cremated in FL and then sent to PA to be buried and it was already paid for.

She was all there mentally right up to the day she died. She wasn't even hard of hearing so it was very easy to hold a conversation with her. She had been a widow since she was in her early 40's and had always managed her own money. She died with $250,000 to her name which I consider impressive because her husband left her with nothing and she retired at 65.

And, to me, it's just too much of a coincidence the CD disappeared when Wells Fargo was taking over Wachovia.
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:47 PM   #11
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...
And, to me, it's just too much of a coincidence the CD disappeared when Wells Fargo was taking over Wachovia.
Probably they lost it, in some file cabinet that got dumped, or it's stored offsite "somewhere".

Suing them will force them to look harder, after how hard do they have to look now ?
Maybe it was just a dumb worker, not experienced with finding old records, or didn't want to look up old boxes of files stored offsite. ?

No matter what, it's interesting, please let us know the progress.
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:47 PM   #12
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I am sure you have most of this covered already, but just in case...
https://finance.zacks.com/recoup-for...osit-4220.html
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:51 PM   #13
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Did you check the PA unclaimed property office too? The original bank was located there, so maybe there was an error when they escheated the funds and they sent them to PA instead of FL.

I also wonder if, at some point, one of the banks did away with this type of CD and when hers matured they just deposited the funds into her existing cash accounts. The IRS can provide 10 years of tax transcripts (form 4506-T), so you might be able to see when the last 1099 was issued if you (or her son) request those. No idea if that'll help, but it's free.
I checked the online PA unclaimed property database and there was nothing. I did not speak to a human. One would hope that Wells Fargo did a nationwide check through their unclaimed property office during their investigation.

I have her tax records back to 2007 and I see a 1099-INT from Wachovia in 2007 and in 2008 and then nothing. The 2009 1099-INT would have been from Wells Fargo because Wachovia and Wells Fargo merged on 12/31/2008. I will review her 2008 and 2009 returns to see if she has any extra income for those years. I think I already did that but I will check again.
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:53 PM   #14
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The first thing that occurred to me was that they were cashed out at some point. That is why no record exists.
The first thing that occurred to me is that we're dealing with Wells Fargo so they probably screwed something up!
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Old 06-07-2020, 05:01 PM   #15
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I am sure you have most of this covered already, but just in case...
https://finance.zacks.com/recoup-for...osit-4220.html
Yes, thank you. I've done those searches. And the son has been through two representatives at his local Wells Fargo branch. One of them was the branch manager so supposedly the 'right' people were looking.

Next step is filing a complaint against Wells Fargo with the Comptroller of the Currency which will be done next week. It's free and it's an organization that might get Wells Fargo's attention.

When I talked to a human at the Comptrollers office and mentioned the problem was with Wells Fargo, I could hear in her voice I wasn't the first person to have issues with them.
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Old 06-07-2020, 05:05 PM   #16
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Probably they lost it, in some file cabinet that got dumped, or it's stored offsite "somewhere".

Suing them will force them to look harder, after how hard do they have to look now ?
Maybe it was just a dumb worker, not experienced with finding old records, or didn't want to look up old boxes of files stored offsite. ?

No matter what, it's interesting, please let us know the progress.
The last scene of Raider's of the Last Ark came to mind when the Wells Fargo branch manager responded (for the second time) they had no record of the CD's.
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Old 06-07-2020, 06:16 PM   #17
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What is more likely: multiple systems showing no record or over decades of time someone cashes them out?

I had a friend handling her fatherís estate and they were shocked to find two life policies buried in his papers both with a fairly high value. They had all the paperwork and upon contacting the insurance company, found out their father had cashed them in years ago though he retained the hard copy of the policies.
She had purchased a life insurance policy in 1939 when she turned 18 and she cashed it out when she was 95. I found the original payment book and some payment receipts from 1939 and the early '40's. I DM'd Prudential on Twitter and asked them to ask their archivist (I was pretty sure they had one) if they wanted these very old papers that were in perfect shape. The archivist contacted me and said she would love to have them so I mailed them off.

I did the same thing with old report cards she'd kept that were up to 90 years old and in perfect condition (all her reports were in the 90's!). I looked on the internet and called a school I thought might be able to point me in the right direction. I happened to call exactly the right school and got the principal. He was very excited to get the report cards to show these bits of history to the students. I have a picture of her at about 9 and one of her at 99 that I'm having reproduced to send to the school to put with the report cards.

I couldn't bear to throw away things she'd kept for so many years, even after she downsized to a studio ALF. Her grades were all A's. In another time and place (not rural PA), she would have gone to college. I miss her.
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Old 06-07-2020, 06:40 PM   #18
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Did the insurance company provide proof of the cashing out ?
I suppose a stop to paying the annual fee (if not fully paid policies) would lend support to the insurance company claim.

I'm naturally suspicious of insurance companies, as many have been caught doing things to avoid payment. And I worked with an ex-agent who detailed to me various stories of how they got bonuses for denying death claims and would deny repeatedly, ask for more proof of death, and then deny receiving the proof for years.
There may well be some bad apples out there but having worked for an A+ life insurer for 12 years and in the industry for 25 years most companies are fine with paying claims in full....that is what we do... any single claim is inconsequential in the whole scheme of things. Much bigger fish to fry than to slow down or contest legitimate claims.
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Old 06-07-2020, 06:43 PM   #19
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I'll just repeat this, for the sake of those who will be settling our affairs:

If you close out an account, let an insurance contract lapse, or any other sort of ending to anything financial, but you want to hang onto the paperwork for a few years, just in case - clearly label it "ACCOUNT CLOSED and moved to BANK XYZ in 2007", or "THIS INS POLICY NO LONGER IN EFFECT - MAY 2018", or whatever.

I've gone on some wild goose chases settling some affairs, because I didn't know if the account/ins was still active or not. Can take some time, and you may never be satisfied that you really got the right answer. Spend 10 seconds to label it now to save an heir 10 weeks of run-arounds.

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Old 06-08-2020, 05:38 AM   #20
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.... Any other ideas about what to do?
Contact the PA and/or FL banking commissioner's office and see if they can do anything to help.

File a complaint via this link: https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/cor...nance/contact/

Quote:
Communications involving the following will be considered an ordinary business matter and will be forwarded to management to research and respond, if appropriate:
  • Personal or business accounts or transactions, including customer service issues
In the financial institution that I used to work at any complaints addressed tot the CEO or President were routed to more senior personnel for special handling.

Alsos, try https://www.missingmoney.com/en/ You can cover different states at one website.
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