When Bob died the paperwork alone was an overwhelming task, and I was fortunate to have people helping me, people lined up to handle things, and most everything in order. Still, there were things that got overlooked, and I'm sure that is a normal part of the process. A small stock account with almost no money in it, or a bill that got missed, or a bank account long since forgotten would slip through the cracks, and over the past almost-three years, I'd do my best to sort it all out.
Having moved twice since his death, things are a bit more complicated by forwarded or not-forwarded mail. The US Postal Service, it turns out, is somewhat inconsistent in their ability to forward items. Sometimes they manage to get it right, and sometimes they don't. For example, I recently received a forwarded postcard about my son's long-since-forgotten savings account at US Bank with information saying it was going to be turned over to the State of California because it had been inactive for so long. Interesting, as this was the first notice we'd received about his account. Also interesting as my daughter has an account at the same bank opened at the same time, yet no notice arrived for her.
So I contacted US Bank. I told them our situation. It turns out that Bob and I still had a joint account there that was also deemed inactive. They could change the address on our joint account, savings account, and a credit line (one we had attempted to close MANY TIMES) over the phone and update the information for it, but since I wasn't the guardian on the children's accounts (US Bank only allows one guardian on accounts opened for a minor), I would have to appear at a US Bank branch in person with a copy of the death certificate and my identification in order to make any changes to the children's accounts.
I explained that I was holding in my hand a piece of paper from US Bank asking me to confirm that my son's account was still active. And, as the trustee for my late husband's estate, I was entitled to complete the paperwork they'd sent me, I could fill it out and mail it without appearing in their branch office—they said, no I would still need to come in.
I asked if I could fax or email the death certificate. I asked this of the person on the phone. I asked this of their online help desk. I asked this of their support person on twitter. I received no reply from twitter. I was told no by the person on the phone, and I was told by the person online that my joint account was now active, but only one guardian could be on the children's accounts, and then I never heard back from them.
So I did what I was authorized to do as a representative of my late husband.
I logged into our joint account on his behalf. I updated the addresses of the children's accounts to our current address. I transferred the funds from our children's accounts into our joint account, and I submitted a payment to myself as their guardian, which I will then dispense to them.
US Bank, in an effort to "protect" the security of our accounts failed. Instead, they lost a customer. I would have been fine leaving my kids' savings accounts with them, but not after the stupid hoops they wanted me to jump through and lack of followup I received from their organization. I'll keep my money with my current bank. I find it impossible to believe that I would need to appear in person to verify my husband's death. If I'd had to do that with every account after his death I'd have lost my fucking mind. They are a bank. Certainly they have the ability to receive a fax or email of a death certificate. Shame on you, US Bank.
Oh, and how secure is it to send a confirmation of an address change on account to the prior address that then gets forwarded to the new address? Pro move, US Bank. Pro move. Glad our money is no longer sitting in your bank, no matter how little it was.