“All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy.”
Advocacy is a big part of what we do. It is not just about financial planning and investment management. We have helped clients fight fraud, win insurance claims, and protect assets. We have accumulated many of these stories over the years.
As fiduciaries, we at Team Treece have no vested interest in the attorneys or other professionals you work with. We accept no referral fees or commissions. Our fiduciary responsibility is to place your needs and interests ahead of our own. We hold your confidence and trust to make sure that all of your financial needs are met and you have the safeguards in place to protect you and your loved ones.
I want you to be aware of these issues and how they may affect you. Being vigilant about what can go wrong is the best deterrent to having it happen to you. Here are a couple of cases we have recently been involved in helping to resolve:
Revserse Mortgage. This case was simply like a home equity line of credit that grows and can be used for long term care or other expenses in an emergency. The plan was not to touch the funds.
Of course, banks are strict, and any mortgage requires the application, credit check, appraisal, insurance verifications, and proof of so many things to prove eligibility. A single woman and senior citizen went through all the hoops and qualified and was granted this credit line.
Two months after closing, the bank came after her for forced place windstorm insurance. Many people who have a house paid off free and clear drop their windstorm insurance. I don’t necessarily recommend it, but it is so expensive and if the house has been “hurricane-proofed” as much as can be, it can be a big savings.
It seems impossible that the bank didn’t know this insurance wasn’t in place before the closing. This after-the-fact requirement made this mortgage a bad deal and she would never have gone ahead with it if this requirement had been disclosed before (or at) closing. It created the appearance that the bank wanted this loan and would deal with the missing insurance afterward. The bank was called as well as notified in writing to file a complaint and challenge the insurance requirement.
Meanwhile, this expensive insurance needed to be included for the terms of the loan and was being paid monthly throughout the dispute, causing a lot of stress to the homeowner. After investigation, THE BANK AGREED TO CANCEL THE MORTGAGE AND REFUND ALL OF THE WINDSTORM INSURANCE PREMIUMS PAID. They made the homeowner whole again despite all the stress. We used our knowledge of the process to help resolve the issue and were happy that it resulted in a good outcome.
Insurance Beneficiary Payment. In this case, the deceased had updated the beneficiary years before from an older sister to a trust. The insurance company received the beneficiary update request but did not process it due to “missing information.” That missing information was never explained to the policyholder, and it was too late once discovered after death. The older sister had passed away years earlier, so the sister’s death certificate had to be submitted to the company. With only one beneficiary left, the company did pay the trust beneficiary as requested, but It shouldn’t have been so difficult. But, luckily, in this case, we knew what actions to take to resolve the issue.
The banks, insurance companies, mutual fund companies, and money managers that we work with are all upstanding, but things can sometimes go wrong. The best route is to do everything possible to avoid any such problems to begin with.
Here are some simple ways to minimize your risk for complications:
- Make sure your beneficiaries are up to date on all policies. Forward complete beneficiary contact information (including phone number and email) to your attorney and financial planner too, in case something goes wrong.
- Make sure that you have done “your documents"—meaning your power of attorney, advanced health care directives, and possibly a will or a trust. We have attorneys we can recommend who can help you get these done.
- Keep all of your important details and documents in one easily-accessible place.
- Set up electronic access to your documents. We utilize Docubank with our clients where you can upload these documents electronically so that they can be made available in an emergency.
We have a few other advocacy cases we're working on right now where we are taking action to stand up for our clients, and so far, we have had good results!
This is at the core of our mission: to fight and advocate for your overall well-being, and we are glad when it has a happy ending.
As always, don’t hesitate to let us know if we can be of service.