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Fund reverted back to Ex after QDRO completion


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I was entitled to half of my ex's 401K and IRA's, including a REIT. The REIT was moved into my account pursuant to a QDRO, along with another REIT. I learned in August that one of the REIT's disappeared from my account and is now in my ex's account. The financial advisor has been allegedly working to move it back into my name where it belongs, but it has taken months and has not gotten anywhere, along with no explanation on how this happened in the first place. I am ready to file a complaint with the appropriate agency to move this along. Any thoughts on how this happened or how I can resolve it?

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You should check with your lawyer. 

Are the REITs part of a 401(k) plan? 

You should contact the plan administrator (whoever is listed in the summary plan description, might be the Ex's employer). and write out your request and ask these questions, including asking for an accounting by investment of the account segregation (where they split apart your portion and your ex's portion). I would also include the trustees on any written requests you sent to the plan as the trustees are required to keep track of the money. 

As for the financial advisor - well, unless they are a fiduciary, they may not have any legal say over the money or where to move investments. I would suggest working with someone who actually has the power to move money or make decisions for the plan, the plan administrator, or a trustee. 

Good luck!

I'm a stranger on the internet. Nothing I write is tax or legal advice. 

I'd like a witty saying here, but I don't have any. When in doubt, what does the plan document say?

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We certainly don't have enough info to figure out what's going on, but if you are correct that money was removed from your account that should not have been removed, call the local office of the Department of Labor and tell them your story. They will almost definitely follow up on your behalf.

Lawrence C. Starr, FLMI, CLU, CEBS, CPC, ChFC, EA, ATA, QPFC
President
Qualified Plan Consultants, Inc.
46 Daggett Drive
West Springfield, MA 01089
413-736-2066
larrystarr@qpc-inc.com

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Were the REIT plans part of your ex's 401(k) Plan or part of your ex's IRA?

Was the QDRO signed by a judge and was a certified copy sent to the Plan administrator of the 401(k) or the custodian of the IRA? 

Did you receive a "determination letter" of some other document from the 401(k) or the IRA approving the QDRO and explaining what they were planning to do?  

Did you set up an IRA to receive the REITs? 

Do you have written statements showing that the REITs were in YOUR IRA  at some point? 

You are not giving us all the details necessary to help you.  If the REITS were transferred from your ex's retirement accounts to your own IRA, there is no way they can be somehow transferred back without explanation.  You must have received a written explanation from somebody.  

Supply more information, including a copy of the QDRO and maybe someone can help you. 

Did you have a lawyer handle the divorce on your behalf?  Have you consulted him/her?  

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REITs are often held outside of brokerage accounts but made to look like they are part of them.  My guess is that it was never properly retitled in the first place, and then something happened - could have been reconfigured, dissolved, or sold, or whatever - and it or proceeds from it wound up reverting into the account that it was "officially" titled for.  If that's the case, it won't be easy to fix (as you've learned already).  Keep after the broker and brokerage firm and threaten to file a complaint and be prepared to follow through.  

Ed Snyder

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