H & R Block Financial Advisors / Terrible experience!
My mother purchased an Express IRA through her local H&R Block Tax Preparation center. After her death, the family contacted H&R Block to disburse the monies. With no beneficiary form on file, the account could not be closed. Because all of her other accounts and retirement funds administered by other companies had proper documentation, we believe that H&R Block, through their own negligence, lost or never ensured that she completed a beneficiary form. The local H&R Block Tax Preparation center was unable to help us (they serve only to prepare taxes and sell, but not manage retirement funds) and we then began dealing with Customer Service representatives in an unknown state. Subsequently we filed a Declaration for Collection of Property Without Probate form (California Probate Code section 13100).
We made several phone calls and were instructed by the H&R Block Financial Advisors location in Florida to complete W-9 forms and H&R Block Express IRA Distribution forms for both beneficiaries. At that time we resent the California Probate 13100 form. We also included a letter detailing our request to equally disburse the monies and this request was also clearly indicated on the IRA Distribution forms.
We have just received a check made payable to our mother's estate. As we had filed the California Probate form, we were not required to open an estate account or request an estate EIN from the IRS. We now have a check which we cannot deposit unless we open an estate account at a local bank. H&R Block refuses to honor the California Probate 13100 form even after collecting the proper IRS forms and their own internal documents which would allow the funds to be disbursed to beneficiaries and not an estate. H&R Block has provided completely dissatisfactory service and appears to be unable to manage these two aspects of their company – Tax Preparation and Financial Advising.
Lessons Learned: Don't Use H&R Block and always make sure you have a will, trust and/or properly executed beneficiary forms!