Winter's Flowers

A tale of bank business, and winter flowers . . . .

We had errands in town around lunchtime that included an important bank visit. I got married in 2008 and changed my name, but there is one investment account that is still under my maiden name, and I needed a Medallion signature guarantee for the form to change it.

We have a local township office where the township clerk does notary business (that is not car-related) for free for township residents. But when I contacted her, I discovered two things: 1) the township office is closed due to Covid, so nobody is on-site, and 2) she as a notary could not do it; such a signature guarantee must be made by a bank official who has that authority.

You might be surprised at the level of complexity this task introduced into my life. I called the investment company to ask about the form; the first person I talked to told me to print and fill out the letter of instruction form (of course, they can't call it the name change form), obtain a Medallion signature guarantee, and mail it back in.

A few days after I talked to that person, I called back again because I wondered if there was any documentation of my marriage or name change that I needed to provide, such as a copy of my driver's license or my marriage license.

The man I talked to said Yes, I should attach a copy of my driver's license with the new name, and I should also provide a W-9 form from the IRS! Oh, and don't forget to sign both names and obtain the Medallion signature guarantees on both the old and new names. Gotcha!

We contacted our local bank in early January, as this was on my list of "things to deal with after retirement." And discovered that the one person at that bank who has the ability to do Medallion signature guarantees was out on Covid quarantine, and wouldn't be back in the office until at least the 20th.

So one day last week, after the 20th, we called our bank in the morning, trying to reach this person to see if we could come in for the signature guarantee. My husband called at least four times, as we were planning to into town in the afternoon; we never got a callback, but eventually, we left for town.

When we got to the bank, as fortune would have it, this lady WAS available. We cashed some checks and then went to her office for the signature guarantee. We had had NO conversation with her about it in advance, which was unfortunate.

I handed her my file, which included a statement from the financial institution that I received in October. And then I learned several things. The bank lady is approved to validate signatures on accounts up to $500,000 (let me note that my investment account balance was around $22,000, which is to say WELL BELOW HER LIMIT, as it seemed unlikely I'd deposited $400,000-plus into that account since my last statement).

However, she requested the latest statement through the year-end. And so in the end, since I could not provide a statement recent enough to please her, she would not do the guarantee! So we left. (I went home and found a newer statement in the prior day's unopened mail. Dangit.)

I can tell you with all honesty that my husband and I shared some rather salty language about the experience. First, that we had waited weeks to see this lady. Second, that she had never returned our calls. And third, that she refused to do the one task I really needed someone to do. We said we wouldn't be back anytime soon, for sure.

Then the next day, our stimulus check came in the mail. And so we knew we would soon be heading back to the bank. Ooh, what fun. On Monday morning, my husband asked if I wanted to try again at the bank. I tucked my newest statement from the investment account into my folder, called the bank, and obtained an appointment with the Medallion signature lady for 12:30.

And in the meantime, I filled out the form for my investment, for the name change. But I stewed over even the second blank on the form: NAME. Which name should I use: my new married name, or the old maiden name which is on the account? My husband encouraged me to call the investment company to ask. I didn't want to. But I did.

I actually called them TWICE. The first time, I ended up locked inside some kind of weird loop on their automated phone system where I couldn't seem to get to a real person to talk to. The second time, I prevailed, and actually SPOKE to someone. This woman told me to include my maiden name at the top of the form, as that was the name on the account. And she told me to add this text to the form: "Old name and new name represent one and the same person."

My husband was outdoors at the time I made the phone calls, and when he came inside, I marveled at the series of interactions I'd had with the investment company, and the progressive disclosures in regard to exactly WHAT I needed to do, what text needed to be included, and what all I should attach.

"I'm supposed to stand on my head and recite the pledge of allegiance backwards in front of the Medallion signature lady," I informed my husband, and we both had a good laugh. And then I got my forms together and we went into town.

I am happy to report that we went back and did it RIGHT this time. The bank lady was in a grand mood, she had on cute shoes (which I immediately remarked on), and we accomplished our business in record time - something less than 10 minutes.

Then she slid my paperwork back across the desk to me, and I noticed that she had only certified the one signature, for my maiden name. "I think both signatures have to be guaranteed," I said, and pointed to the box where she needed to make the stamp and sign her name. "Oh, we usually only stamp that if a second name - such as your husband - is being added to the account," she said.

I asked her if she could please just go ahead and certify the second signature, with my new name. She said, "Well, let's go ahead and do that so that you don't have to come back." She told me it was a pleasure meeting me, and I left with my documents. I guess I expected the Medallion signature guarantee to be gold foil or something. But it was just a bunch of green ink with her name signed in the middle!

So here is my accomplishment. This is a task I completed on this day, via a long and winding road: I got the Medallion signature guarantees for the paperwork to update the final account that's been out there hanging with my old name since 2008.

Why did I need to do it? I have just retired and may need to liquidate some accounts. I was afraid if this particular investment account ever issued me a check under the old name, I'd have difficulty cashing it. And yes, I can definitely see why I never took care of it until now!

All I have to do is fill out the W-9 form to go with it and then mail the name change form, the W-9 form, and the photocopy of my driver's license to my investment company, all things I will do in the next day or so. (And you wonder why women don't want to change their names when they get married - what a great big pain in the tuchus it can be!)

After that, we went home and dropped off some stuff and switched cars, and we drove to the gameland so that my husband could go for a jog. Feeling pleased with myself after FINALLY accomplishing my big task, I happily took some wintry pictures, including the one above.

So here is a photo of winter's flowers, which are more fluff than bloom at this point, but I thought they looked like tiny points of light. There's a purple vine for interest, and doesn't the background look golden and lovely?

The soundtrack song is the Beatles, with Long and Winding Road. If you're still with me at this point, thank you for reading! And ladies, if you are thinking of changing your name for marriage or any other reason, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!!!! I betcha you'll need a Medallion signature guarantee if you have any financial accounts, Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!

Helpful link: What's a Medallion Signature Guarantee?

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