The teller handed me the paperwork and I left the bank with a smile. Mission accomplished. I was taking care of the details in life.
I felt great. I was at the bank to set some money aside in a certificate of deposit. They had a special interest rate. The term was just about the time I would be buying a new car so this was a great opportunity for me.
I had withdrawn funds right from my checking account to open the cd. So I was thinking it was more a transfer. Then, I signed the prepared paperwork and headed home.
Here is the thing. None of us are perfect. And certainly I include myself in that fact. So it was not until an hour later when I was telling my husband what I did, that I pulled out the paperwork to look more closely. The cd was opened in my name. My name alone. Oops! That was wrong for two reasons.
First, no one but me could access it if I was to get injured, die or disabled and needed the money. This was not a good plan for the realities of life which I discuss often.
Second and most important, if I did die, this money would go through probate court, delaying my estate settlement. I can hear someone now saying: “Who cares? You will be dead.” But I do care. You see, my husband and I spent money and time making sure our estate plan and the documents were in order. All of our bank accounts were either in joint name or the name of our irrevocable trusts. Now, there was one outlier and I had caused the issue. This Certified Financial Planner had goofed. I signed documents without thinking it through and confirming the title of the new certificate of deposit. I saw my name and signed. I had also made an assumption that the new account would be in the same title since I just transferred the money in. I know better.
Verify. Verify. Verify. I tell clients to do this every day. And yet, here I was. Luckily, I had done this mid-day and the bank was still open and I called. Ellen, the teller, was very helpful when I explained the name on the account was incorrect. She offered to redo the paperwork and call me later in the day to sign it.
I knew she had the trust documents – so important if a bank or investment company is to put your assets in a trust name. So at least, I knew it could be simple from there. Or so I thought.
Remember, the bank consolidations that have been going on and on over the years since the Great Recession? Well, this bank had merged five years or so ago. So now, I got a call from Ellen, telling me the paperwork would take a few days because the system had to be updated at many stages to open the cd on every level. I almost said I would take the money out and put it in my other bank! But that was the impatient me speaking. The part that also was mad at herself for doing wrong. So I told her to keep me posted.
That was Friday. This is Monday. My task is still not checked off as done. I’m deflated but grateful to have this opportunity to remind you that if you have an estate plan, be sure you have all your financial business aligned with the estate plan. If you do not have an estate plan with documents drawn up by a lawyer, get on it. Sometimes we can all stray, just when we think we are on track.