Archive for the 'banking' Category

Subsequent conditions

March 13, 2015

I am in the process of transferring my mother’s accounts into accounts registered to her Estate.  This morning I had, in connection with that, an experience that I surely didn’t like, but which also allowed me to see other, past situations more clearly.

Last evening I was told that a second of my mother’s accounts at a bank was being transferred in to her Estate’s account and that I would see it, online, posted to the Estate’s account later that night.

This process has been an arduous one, because, despite what my mother was told when she moved, she really needed to have closed these accounts in the NJ branch and reopened them in a MA branch office of the same national bank.  She was advised that there was no reason to, that the only difference would be the deposit slips she would need to use if she left her accounts registered as they were.

It turns out it does make a difference to New Jersey and its taxing authority, in terms of demonstrating change of domicile and leaving NJ with a conduit for trying to tax assets upon death.

My mother moved to MA with the intention of living here permanently.  She sold her house, filed a permanent change of address card with the USPS, took a year’s lease on an apartment, found new doctors, etc., etc.  I know because I helped her with most of the heavy lifting involved.

When I didn’t see the money posted to my mother’s Estate’s new account last night, I thought that maybe it would show up after 8:00 a.m. this morning on the account.  It didn’t show up then either.

So this morning I called.  It turns out there is a note in the file that they need another document from me, a bill mailed to my mother showing where her residence was around the time of her death.  I faxed a copy of her January electricity bill for service at her apartment and sent to her apartment.

But I was most definitely not a happy camper (or happy Personal Representative).

I do understand the need for evidence showing my mother’s change of domicile, I don’t mind faxing copies of bills, leases, doctors, whatever.  But I found being told everything was all set when it wasn’t, not okay;  the imposition of a subsequent condition I found upsetting.  I had calibrated my expectations in relation to what I had been voluntarily told, I had worked my schedule and arranged my work on the Estate around things being as I had been told.  I probably wouldn’t have minded so much if this hadn’t been a big hump to have gotten over — I had been told we had gotten over it and now I was being told that we hadn’t.

I’ve had this sort of experience in personal relationships, where I find it upsetting, too, but in the midst of the he said/she said type of argument that usually ensues in such cases, it can be more difficult to see what has happened and the issues at the root.  The person does actually say one thing, it is relied on, not unreasonably, and relied on in a difficult situation that will be ameliorated by the assertion’s being true, and then later the person says something else, something that removes what has been relied on.  The root of the problem is probably that what was said means things of different importance to the the person saying them and person hearing them.

In the Estate banking situation, I have more detachment than I often do when this sort of dynamic comes up in other parts of my life.  I can more easily see that timing is an issue (they could have told me this last evening) but that so also is substance:  my mother did change her domicile, according to general legal principles (I don’t know whether NJ’s statutes replace those rules with something else — my lawyer, who thought everything was in order before she went on vacation this week, gets back next week), and the bank personnel did inform me the paperwork had been completed and the money was in the process of being transferred.  In personal relationships, on the other hand, for example, we are rarely so precise about things, and when we are, it is usually an indication that relationship is not working.

So what have I learned?  That some people really do mislead a person in a way that the person misled cannot see until the damage has been done.  Whether the situation can be cleaned up to an “all’s well that end’s well” conclusion probably depends on particular details of the situation.  Such a conclusion would probably heal the damage.  In its absence, there is always acceptance that people are limited, there is always the choice to take the experience as a challenge to find compassion for people when they behave in this way and to see people as they are, not as they tell us they are or as we wish them to be.


Post Script:  As I was editing this, I got a call from the bank that the rest of the funds are being transferred, and I can see online that they are.



Debit card overdraft fees

June 11, 2012

My older son knew a debit card was not for him, but my younger son has one, and he has found that there are even more hidden fees than consumer watchdogs and newspaper editors talk about.

He used his debit card on line and the transaction did not go through.  At least not immediately.  A few days later he spent some more, thinking the older transaction was over.  But the older transaction was actually processed days later, and at the vendor end, they processed it as a “credit” transaction, so the transaction went through, even though by then the account did not contain enough money to cover the transaction.  And despite my son’s having made the appropriate arrangements with his account so that attempts to spend more with his debit card than was in his account would be denied rather than allowed and penalized with a fee, in this situation his account was debited for the amount and assessed a fee.

Now my son did make phone calls and eventually went down to the local bank branch and they did reimburse him for the fee — but only because “it was the first time,” “he was a good customer” kind of thing.  There was no admission that the systems and their interplay don’t work as advertized.  I file this under “we have made things too complicated,” as well as under other headings.

Bank fees

October 11, 2011

I am thinking about the advent of monthly debit card fees, bank monthly paper statement fees, bank fees passed on through insurance companies to consumers for monthly automatic payment of things like car insurance premiums, and Elizabeth Warren.   Where I ultimately come out on the picture I see coalescing is that at least now more of us and with bigger voices are getting to see just how the banks treat customers and balance service with profits.  Because some of these new fees seem to be a pretty direct result of disallowing fees previously charged by banks to a smaller and less sympathetic portion of their clientele.  Part of me wants the Elizabeth Warrens of this world to deal with these consequences, but I think it might be fairer to say that eventually competition from banks who actually offer superior services even at less profit may be the only sustainable way out of this mess; how lower profits would impact executive salaries or shareholder concerns I’m not sure, but eventually, I hope, just moving the charges around one more time to some newly created fee will become impossible in the face of consumer demand.