A New Jersey couple purchased some IRA's back in the 1980's at a local bank. Then, around close to 22 years later, the husband, whose wife has since passed away, has been attempting to cash them. What happened next is the nightmare of every estate administration -- the bank has no record of the IRA's ever existing.
Apparently, the assets of the bank that the IRAs were originally purchased from had been sold numerous times. When the family finally discovered what happened to the assets from the original bank, a search of its records yielded no results. The 98-year-old New Jersey man has the original certificates, but no one will honor them.
They had been in a "metal box under the couple's bed" all that time. It is not known whether the couple ever received any notifications when the assets were sold from one bank to another. What happened to these IRA's may never be discovered, and the deceased woman's daughters may never inherit the money their money intended to leave them.
Fireproof boxes and safes are useful tools, but it may not be a good idea to simply put something in them and forget about them. Updating information at least yearly may help keep something like this from happening. In order to aide estate administration, it may be a good idea to make a list of all accounts with as much information as possible such as the name of the institution, address, phone number and contact. For online accounts, usernames and passwords would help in locating assets after death.
Source: nj.com, "Bamboozled: The mystery of the missing retirement funds," Karin Price Mueller, July 1, 2013