How is Peck Bulgin Wealth Management equipped to handle your guardianship/conservator accounts?
Guardianship is a distinct and unique type of judicial matter. Unlike other cases, guardianships may remain open for years or even decades, particularly in cases involving adults with developmental or mental disabilities. The role of a guardian is highly complex, involving legal, social, financial and psychological dimensions.*
Being a guardian can be a very difficult endeavor. The guardian is subject to legal scrutiny as the courts have a duty to ensure that guardians are properly caring for their wards. This legal scrutiny is in regard to not only the ward’s person but the ward’s finances as well.
Many financial institutions do not handle guardianship accounts or court-restricted depository accounts. Those that do often do not have a firm grasp on the process of opening these accounts, assisting the guardians with the reporting requirements, understanding the requirements for account withdrawals, etc. Thus, often guardians end up spending a tremendous amount of time, energy and frustration on just trying to figure out how to handle the financial affairs of the ward.
This is where Peck Bulgin Wealth Management can be of service whether you are a professional guardian that handles hundreds of guardianships or whether you are currently working your way through your first (and possibly only) guardianship. Our skillset and experience coupled with Raymond James’ capacity for working with guardianship accounts allows us to assist with your guardianship needs.
Peck Bulgin Wealth Management not only works with guardianship accounts and court restricted depository accounts, we make it a focus of our practice. We are fully versed in this process from start to finish and we will be glad to help you from the beginning. From making sure that the language in the court order is as it should be to the actual investment of the funds, to the continual monitoring of the investments and reporting of the performance of those investments. As a guardian, working with Peck Bulgin Wealth Management will assist you in several ways, including the following:
- Access to a team that has both a legal and financial background.
- We are well versed in not only the establishment of these types of accounts, but the entire framework around them, and we own the entire process from start to finish.
- We will assist you in compiling all statements and moving assets to Raymond James.
- Wherever possible, we will work directly with the contra firms in moving assets over, thereby saving the guardian time and often frustration.
- We are knowledgeable and experienced in working with the Prudent Investor Rule.
- You will speak to our team directly. We will never send you to a 1-800 number. You will not be shuffled around from person to person. You will speak with the same person throughout the entire process.
At Peck Bulgin Wealth Management, our goal is to make the otherwise cumbersome experience of being a guardian as effortless as possible. As a guardian, a person is performing a service to another. Many times this service is for a family member out of love. This service often involves little articulated appreciation or compensation. We work hard to take as much of the confusion and frustration out of the financial aspects of serving as a guardian.
If you would like more information on guardianships or court-restricted depositories, please feel free to browse the following FAQs or reach out to us directly.
What is a guardian or conservator?
A Guardian or conservator is the person(s) or entity appointed by the court to handle the affairs of the Ward. Some states refer to this person as the guardian, others as the sonservator. It is possible that there is an individual appointed to take care of the ward’s basic needs (food, clothing, medical needs, etc.) and a different individual appointed to manage the ward’s estate (assets). In some states, the title given to this person may depend on the age of the ward, whether the fiduciary is authorized to take care of the person only or the estate (assets) or both and in some cases dependent on who initiated the petition for a guardian or conservator. Any reference to guardian or conservator as it pertains to a Raymond James account refers to the person or entity who is appointed to hold/manage assets (the estate/property) of the ward.
Who can act as a guardian or conservator?
Unlike custodians, trustees and POAs, guardians and conservators are always appointed by a court. Only those persons or entities appointed by a court will be authorized to conduct business on behalf of the ward on any Raymond James account once we have received and approved all required documents.
What is the ward or respondent?
The ward or respondent is the person for whom a guardianship or conservatorship was appointed. This person may be a minor or a legally incapacitated adult.
What is a depository/blocked account?
A Depository is a financial institution which is designated by a court to hold the assets of a ward. A Blocked account is an account established by a financial institution that prohibits withdrawal of assets without prior court approval.
Who can qualify to be a restricted depository?
Under Florida law, banks, savings and loans, and trust companies can, as described in Florida Statute 69.031, and broker/dealers as described in Florida Statute 517.021(6)(a).
What documents does Peck Bulgin Wealth Management of Raymond James require to establish an account with a guardian or conservator?
Raymond James generally requires two basic court documents:
- The Order of Appointment and;
- The Letters of Appointment.
Oftentimes these documents will differ from state to state, and may vary depending on the reason for appointment. We will work with you directly to ensure that we have the correct documents to open your particular account.
In addition to the two court documents, we will also require;
- A completed and signed Account Information form and;
- A Client Agreement as well as;
- The Guardianship/ Conservatorship Account Agreement for each account to be established. Please be aware that additional documents may be required upon review of the two basic court documents.
How are IRA accounts affected?
Generally, once a guardian or conservator is appointed over the property of a ward, all assets owned individually by the ward fall under that relationship, including IRA accounts.
To open a new IRA account, we will require the same court paperwork as required for non-IRA accounts, along with the standard IRA requirements as if there were no guardian or conservator appointed.
What fees are involved in establishing these accounts with Peck Bulgin Wealth Management of Raymond James?
Fees are determined based on whether an account is considered restricted or non-restricted. “Restricted” means an order from the court would be required to release any funds from the account and/or the investments are either limited or require an order as well. “Non-restricted” means that Raymond James does not require a prior order from the court to allow the fiduciary to either withdraw funds/assets or invest the assets.
Due to the nature of these accounts, Raymond James has implemented a policy that errs on the side of caution. We assume all guardianship or conservatorship account disbursements are “restricted” unless the court paperwork we have clearly indicates otherwise. On the other hand, with regard to investments, since we cannot possibly be aware of investment statutes for all states, we do not limit or restrict the investment ability of the fiduciary unless there is specific language in the court documents we have that requires it.
For any account that is restricted, for either disbursements or investments or both, an annual fee of $150 is applied to the account. The fee is not limited to guardianship/conservatorship accounts but also includes any account restricted per a court order. Non-restricted guardianship/conservatorship accounts are subject to a $75 one-time fee.
What are my investment options?
Your investment options entirely depend on whether the account is considered restricted or non-restricted. If the account is non-restricted, you have a virtually limitless range of options and Peck Bulgin Wealth Management will work with you to ensure that the investments within the account(s) are selected to complement the goals, risk tolerance and investment time horizon of the ward.
Does Raymond James permit check writing, debit or credit cards on guardianship/conservator accounts?
If the account is restricted, we will not allow check writing or debit/credit features. You may open a separate non-restricted guardianship/conservator account for check writing and/or debit/credit card utilization. Money can then be transferred from the restricted account to the non-restricted account provided a court order allows the release. If the account is restricted, you have fewer investment options. However, there are still many investments available to you at Raymond James including two diversified, actively managed portfolios.
The above information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Raymond James does not provide legal services.