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Thomas McJD
Thomas McJD, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6514
Experience:  Wills, Trusts, Probate & other Estate Matters
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My husband and I got married.

Resolved Question:

My husband and I got married. I became his retirement account beneficiary and he moved in with me to my house. Mail was addressed to my husband involving the beneficiaries on his retirement account (even though we had changed our address...some mail inadvertently IT SEEMS went to his old address at his mother's house).

My husband had a brain tumor and his health deteriorated. His mother and sister opened mail addressed to HIM at his old address and found out they were no longer beneficiaries and challenged the beneficiary status after he died (based on opening this piece of mail...as stated in a lawsuit).

Is this mail fraud that they opened the mail not addressed to them? Should they not have been able to file a lawsuit using that letter in the first place? AND is the mutual fund company liable as well because they did not properly change my husband's address -- even though he DID notify them of the address change and made additional investments?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  jgdarragh2285 replied 11 months ago.

jgdarragh2285 :

Hello nice to meet you my name isXXXXX am a certified Fraud Examiner and will be helping you today.

Customer:

Thanks Joe.

jgdarragh2285 :

Give me a moment to read your question I will be right with you

Customer:

I am concerned about privacy. The info in that letter was used to sue me for his retirement money.

jgdarragh2285 :

Because this question involves a legal issue it is more of a question for an attorney. I am going to opt out of this question and recategorize it as a legal, not a fraud question because it involves an active lawsuit. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you but I want to ensure your question is answered by the most qualified expert.

Customer:

Thanks Joe. I was surprised that it wasn't sent to an attorney -- that's what I thought I was getting. No offense :-)

Customer:

Not Joe's fault...I was sent to the wrong expert.

Customer:

I should not have to pay ANYTHING for this, btw.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.

I'm going to be very upset if I've been charged $45 and not been given an answer.

Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 11 months ago.

Hi Sir or Madam, I'm Thomas and will be happy to assist you. My goal is to make you a very satisfied customer! Thanks in advance for your patience.

No, it is not illegal for them to have opened the mail that was delivered to them even though it was addressed to your husband. It also was not wrongful for them to bring a suit to challenge the beneficiary designation for the retirement account based on the knowledge they were not the beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, your only option is to argue against their claims and defend yourself as the rightful beneficiary of the funds. They really have absolutely no grounds to challenge you as the rightful beneficiary if he changed the beneficiary to you after you were married. This is especially true if you were still married at the time of his death. You need to retain a local attorney that can assist you in the court proceedings and protect the funds since you are the rightful beneficiary.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.

I am working with an attorney on the suit. I was just curious about the legality of the initial cause of the entire problem to begin with -- the opening of that letter that was not intended for them.


 


I simply don't understand why it's ok for them to open that letter. I thought it was illegal to open mail that isn't addressed to you? He had not passed away yet -- it was before he died. The letter was dated about nine days prior to his passing. And, further I am the executrix of the estate. Does this change anything?


 


I am aware that I am the legitimate beneficiary. And yes, we were married at the time of his death. I feel sorry that they are dealing with their grief in such an unfortunate way as to attack me. My main concern is looking at all angles on this.


 


And, I also don't understand why the mutual fund company even sent that letter to that address when we had formally changed our address with them on all of his investments. That letter should never have been sent in the first place.

Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 11 months ago.
I simply don't understand why it's ok for them to open that letter. I thought it was illegal to open mail that isn't addressed to you?

Unfortunately that is a common misconception. If the post office has delivered the mail, then there is nothing illegal under federal law about opening the mail. If the information gained had then been used for an illegal purpose, it could be illegal under state law. However, their use is not unlawful so there just isn't anything that can be done from a legal angle.

He had not passed away yet -- it was before he died. The letter was dated about nine days prior to his passing. And, further I am the executrix of the estate. Does this change anything?

No, that doesn't change the fact that they did nothing wrong by opening mail that was delivered to their address, even though it was addressed to your husband.

And, I also don't understand why the mutual fund company even sent that letter to that address when we had formally changed our address with them on all of his investments. That letter should never have been sent in the first place.

There's no way to know why the mail still went to that address but it's not uncommon for a company to mess up a change of address or miss changing the information in one of the many departments involved in an insurance company. Although they messed up, there's really nothing that can be done against them in this particular case.

I know the law doesn't always make sense -- it certainly doesn't. And in this case, you would tend to think something could be done, but that unfortunately is not the case since their use of the information was ultimately for a lawful purpose. I'm sorry the law isn't different in your case.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

You totally hit the nail on the head! It is an extremely frustrating experience when it seems others are using the system to "victimize" (I hate that word because I don't want to be one) another person.


 


Thank you for your understanding. I am grateful for your taking the time to answer each of my points. I truly am amazed that a person's privacy CAN BE INVADED and result in a lawsuit (a frivolous and possibly malicious one at that) and that it's not illegal. Lesson learned.

Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 11 months ago.
You're welcome. Again, I'm sorry it's led to this and I wish you the best. Thanks.
Thomas McJD, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6514
Experience: Wills, Trusts, Probate & other Estate Matters
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