It’s alarming to me but true. One of the most frequently-searched phrases that brings visitors to this site is some combination of the phrases “chase bank”, “iolta account”, “estate.” Therefore, for those who quite possibly are in need of a summary of my experiences with Chase Bank, I’m going to re-tell the whole story in a single post, simple and to the point.
What follows is the true story of how Chase Bank intentionally lied in an attempt to prevent me from closing Maggie’s IOLTA account.
April 1, 2010 I visited the Chase Bank branch at 3317 Northland Dr. with the intent of closing Maggie’s two business accounts she was using in her law practice. I had with me the official letter from the court titled “Letters of Administration” and a copy of Maggie’s death certificate.
I spoke with Janina who eventually, after discussing the matter with someone at the corporate offices, told me that she could close one account, the general business account, but the other account, an IOLTA account, would require another document called a “Letter of Instruction” from the Texas Bar Association. Without that document, she would no longer be able to assist me with this matter. Her response to my pointing out the official document from the court that empowered me to act on behalf of Maggie’s estate was “we have our own requirements.”
I checked with the Texas Bar Association. They don’t issue any letters of instruction nor do they involve themselves whatsoever with IOLTA accounts. In other words, the letter of instruction that Chase Bank was insisting I produce doesn’t exist.
My probate attorney called Chase Bank, specifically Janina, to try to clarify the situation. They reiterated their requirement. We asked Chase Bank for an example letter of instruction and they could not produce one.
After many conversations with Chase Bank, on May 26, 2010, they finally agreed to close Maggie’s account with the following caveat. They would address the check to: “Jason Weaver, Independent Administrator of the Estate of Maggie Mae Weaver, IN TRUST FOR THE CLIENTS OF MAGGIE MAE WEAVER, ATTORNEY AT LAW (IOLTA ACCOUNT PROCEEDS)” I refused the check because I know there would be no way whatsoever to get that checked deposited into any bank.
So, I called out for help from some friends. A local TV station, KVUE, saw a story and ran it on June 3, 2010 highlighting what had happened. Prior to running the story, the reporter asked Chase for comments and they refused. After running the story, some attorney for Chase Bank called the reporter and was extremely angry and confrontational. Apparently, the story struck a nerve.
June 8, 2010, five days after the new story ran on KVUE, a representative from Chase Bank’s “Executive Office” in Houston left me a voicemail wanting to discuss “my situation.” Now Chase Bank is calling me.
June 9, 2010 I had a series of discussions with Jimmy Laguna from the Executive Services department at JP Morgan Chase in Houston. He explained to me that:
– Chase Bank is all about customer service and he regrets what happened (no apology… just regrets)
– They knew that there was no such thing as a Letter of Instruction from the Texas Bar Association (Chase Bank was knowingly lying)
– He (and the Executive Services department) got involved because of the story that ran on TV
– Were it not for the media exposure this account would likely have just been held by Chase Bank forever
– Chase Bank does not consider the IOLTA account as part of Maggie’s estate and therefore my authority as administrator of her estate did not apply to the IOLTA account
– I needed to provide proof that the IOLTA account was included as part of Maggie’s estate
– Chase Bank would accept as a deposit into a new account at Chase Bank the check they offered to write (I refused on the grounds I didn’t trust or want to deal with Chase Bank ever again)
– This situation is extremely rare and that he’s never seen or heard of this issue before (the issue being an estate administrator trying to close an IOLTA account)
– Because of my situation “procedures have been changed” to better handle this in the future
Since the gating factor seemed to be the whole IOLTA-not-part-of-the-estate thing, I offered up the estate inventory I gave to the courts for Maggie’s probate hearing. The inventory specifically shows the IOLAT account. Additionally, during the proceedings, the judge asked about the IOLTA account which could be seen in an official court transcript, if needed.
I sent over a scanned copy of the estate inventory showing the IOLTA account as part of her estate. Mr. Laguna said he would present this to his attorneys for determination. I asked if these were the same attorneys that were asking me for a letter that didn’t exist. He stated “no, these are the real attorneys.”
June 11, 2010 I received FedEx package from JP Morgan Chase containing one printed check payable to The Estate of Maggie Mae Weaver for the full amount of the IOLTA account.