Smart Money: Fathers legacy is mired in red tape
DEAR BRUCE: I found out that my father left me a death benefit check in the amount of $6,264.44. The company took out insurance on his life payable to me in the 1930s in Pennsylvania. I don't have the policy, but the Pennsylvania Treasury Department said it was made out to "John Doe." The treasury auditor says I am not entitled to the money since there are three John Does in its survey. The auditor says I must get a release from my son to claim the money, which is impossible since I haven't seen him in 29 years.
My father obviously wanted me to be the beneficiary, but the insurance company failed to put "Jr." on the policy, and it is now out of business. I find this idiotic as my father is deceased. My son wasn't even born at that time. Do I have any recourse in this matter? -- D.D., via email
DEAR D.D.: I am not at all certain. The fact that there are several other people with your name doesn't affect the situation except for possibly your son. Since you haven't had any contact with him for 29 years, I would let the treasury department know you have no knowledge as to his whereabouts or even if he is still living.
If this doesn't satisfy the department, then the next step is to find an attorney who specializes in this type of circumstance. It seems to me that there should be some kind of remedy for you.
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DEAR BRUCE: When I retired, I left my money in my 401(k). I am now in my 70s and withdrawing enough money yearly to meet the requirement. My question is, are there any advantages in rolling over my 401(k)? -- V.W., via email
DEAR V.W.: The question is, do you need the money? If not, you can leave any monies in the account that are not required to be withdrawn and take advantage of the tax deferral. Any money that is earned by the account is tax-deferred.
Aside from that, if you need the money, the disadvantage of rolling it over is paying taxes. It's simply a matter of whether you need the money and how well it is doing in the 401(k). If it's not doing well, pay the taxes, take it out and find another place to invest.