Morgan Stanley is facing a lawsuit filed by the brother of a deceased client over a dispute about the rightful beneficiary of that client’s individual retirement account.
The case — which involves a posthumously discovered document and a handwriting expert — presents a cautionary tale for financial advisors whose clients don’t have a beneficiary form on record.
The lawsuit was filed by Lance Tittle, the brother of Kent Tittle, a Morgan Stanley client who died in April last year.
The claimant alleges his late brother disinherited his ex-wife and their two children, leaving Kent Tittle's entire estate to Lance Tittle.
But Morgan Stanley has no record of a designated beneficiary on Kent Tittle’s IRA account, leaving the presumed beneficiaries as Kent Tittle’s children or his estate, the lawsuit alleges.
But a copy of a form designating Lance Tittle as the beneficiary of the account and signed by his brother was found at the late brother’s house, the lawsuit alleges.
Lance Tittle hired an expert who verified “the genuineness of the handwriting,” the lawsuit states.
Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley has refused to identify Lance Tittle as the account beneficiary unless a court orders it to do so, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit, filed in a Pennsylvania state court, is pending.
Neither a Morgan Stanley spokesperson nor Lance Tittle’s attorney, Pottstown, Pa.-based David Allebach of Yergey Daylor Allebach Scheffey Picardi, returned FA-IQ’s request for comments.