Medallion Guarantees and Stock Transfer agents

I have posted a few times on the importance of funding your trust. I have also posted about my inclination toward consolidation of assets. As stated you have to consider FDIC insurance, other insurance, taxes, etc… but in general I am a big proponent of consolidation. I also have mentioned that I feel holding stocks with transfer agents is a huge mistake. I have more information to share related to my mom’s passing related to all that and the difficulty of obtaining a Medallion Guarantee.

As I have posted before my mom loved her dividend reinvestment accounts (DRIPs). She threw in small contributions, when she could, and ended up with a large number of different holdings. They were held with the transfer agents: Computershare, American Stock Transfer, and Wells Fargo Shareowner Services. The dollar values were not huge but it was a wide variety of blue chip companies.

Over the years I was able to get my mom to transfer her DRIPs into a brokerage account at the brokerage house of her choice. Unfortunately she didn’t get every single one in. For the most part the ones that were left out were extremely small holdings. Often just a fractional share. As I posted recently, in my experiences with her Chase stock, the amount of the stock may literally be pennies or less in value.

In recent months my mom received several pieces of mail from Wells Fargo Shareowner Services. They had different account numbers but no mention of a particular stock or number of shares.  I dutifully wrote to Wells Fargo Shareowner Services and asked them if it was Wells Fargo Bank stock or a different stock, how many shares were owned (expecting the answer to be zero or close to zero) and if they change the address since my mom was deceased.

Of course I included a copy of my mom’s death certificate and the certification of trust for her trust. I included those papers with each mailing.

I received several written communications back that they had made the address change. In fact, they sent that letter to the old address and the new address so I got each one twice. So let’s say I received two envelopes for each of 6 accounts from Wells Fargo Shareowner Services so 50 cents each in postage we are at $6.00 right there.

I wrote back and again asked for information on if it’s Wells Fargo Bank stock or some other company and how many shares.  They wrote back indicating that I need to have a form completed by my bank with the Medallion Guarantee.  I wrote back and explained I didn’t really want to go to the bank and wait for the person to apply the Medallion Guarantee if the stocks were worth nothing. I added that they could send the information to my mom’s address if they didn’t want to send to me.

SIDE NOTE: So basically they were willing to change the mailing address away from my mom’s house with a photo copy of a death certificate but won’t give me any other information. I find that odd.

Anyway, they reply yet again that I have to have the Medallion Guarantee from my bank before they will give me any information.

So, finally yesterday I went to my bank. It’s actually a credit union. I like them so wont totally throw them under the bus but yesterday I felt the service I received was not as great as usual. It was a bit crisp and formal for my liking. I prefer more smiles.  The exchange went like this:

Me (after a short wait): Hi, I need to have this form Medallion Guaranteed.

Them: Sure we can do that. What is the value of the stock?

Me: I don’t know. That’s what I am trying to find out.

Them: Well, the Medallion Guarantee is only good for a certain dollar amount so I need to know how much.

Me: That’s the problem. They won’t tell me how much is there without getting the Medallion Guarantee on this form but I am sure it’s less than whatever limit your Medallion Guarantee is good for.

Them: Well, we can not apply the Medallion Guarantee without you verbally telling us the value.

Me (totally flustered by the ludicrousness of the situation): Ok, fine it’s $1,000. (Honestly, I wish it was $1,000 as I am expecting it’s zero but whatever…wishful thinking and happy thoughts).

Them: Ok, now do you have an account in the name of this trust here?

Me: Actually I don’t. We have our personal trust here but not my mom’s trust.

Them: I am sorry we can’t Medallion Guarantee without you having the trust here or proof that you are the trustee. Wells Fargo may do it since they are the transfer agent!?

SIDE NOTE: I kept my humor and said “I don’t have an account there… actually based on the news this week maybe I do have an account there!?” She didn’t laugh.

Me: You just did the Medallion Guarantee a few weeks ago on other forms for me.

Them: I know I did but you had proof that you were the trustee then.

Me (feeling like I should close all my accounts at their credit union but I managed to stammer out a semi-friendly reply): Ok, I’ll come back with the proof that I am the trustee.

Sooooooo, I am going to go back today with the proof that I am the trustee. With any luck I will get my darn Medallion Guarantee affixed to the form. I will then mail it to Wells Fargo Shareowner Services. They will then reply and probably tell me all 6 accounts have zero shares of stock. However, at least I can button that issue up and move on with life.

What’s my point?

Heck, I don’t know. I just needed to vent a little. Seriously though, close your darn DRIP accounts and move your assets to brokerage accounts. I don’t care what broker. You can do the online research to find the place you want. There are “full service” brokers, there are “discount” brokers and some that are sort of a hybrid. The point is get your stocks into an account where you can easily sell them when you need to.  ALSO, totally close your old DRIP accounts so your kids don’t get the run-around trying to figure out if there is any value in them.

Happy Friday.  -John


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