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Wealth Management Case Study

Estate Settlement Held Up

You are on: The Problem

From the Perspective of the Client

When an elderly couple sold their home, their daughter invested the money with RBC® in her mother's name. She thought that she had written to add her father's name later on. After her mother passed away, she found out that her father's name had not been added to the account, so RBC couldn't transfer the money to him. The daughter had assumed the name was added to the account, and didn’t appear on the mailing label since there wasn’t enough room for it.

From the Perspective of RBC

RBC said they had not received anything in writing to add the father’s name, and all correspondence and tax receipts only listed the mother's name. Legally, they were not able to transfer the account to the client's father since it was not a joint account with a right of survivorship. Revenue Canada regulations prevent a name change to an account after a death. In addition, if the account was transferred and the will contested, which was quite possible, then RBC would be financially liable.

You are on: The Resolution

The Office of the Ombudsman Reports:

"Everyone wanted the assets to go to the husband. But they could only think of solutions that wouldn't work, like posthumously changing the names.

When our office stepped in, we spent a week speaking frequently with both RBC and the client. We avoided what couldn’t be done and focused on the common goal. It seemed the only way to transfer the money was by having the will probated to name the father as the beneficiary. This meant, by law, the assets would be his. In a gesture of goodwill, RBC covered the cost of the probate for the client. Once complete, the account was transferred to her father's name."

You are on: What Can be Learned

For RBC:

Look for the common goal. Instead of being caught up in what can’t be done, look for creative solutions. Remember that people who are grieving are understandably emotional and preoccupied.

For Clients:

Never assume. Follow up immediately to clarify if records don’t match your request.