Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article, “UBS can be sued over ‘improperly’ distributed IRAs,” quotes Joseph L. Bierwirth, Jr.

October 10, 2018

A woman who claimed she was the rightful beneficiary of three individual retirement accounts owned by her deceased boyfriend could sue UBS Financial Services for wrongfully delaying her payments and for distributing funds to improper claimants, the Appeals Court has decided.

The Appeals Court found that the plaintiff’s fiduciary duty and contract claims could go forward, and further held that she had a viable c. 93A claim against UBS.

Boston attorney, Joseph L. Bierwirth, Jr., noted that the Appeals Court treated the IRA custodian’s obligations as akin to a trustee’s fiduciary obligations, and commented that the Court’s decision on the 93A claim was in line with a previous ruling in a 2005 trust law case – Quinton v. Gavin.

As regarding the claim for delay in distributing the IRA proceeds, again the trust law analogy holds. “With a terminating trust under the Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code, the trustee has a duty to proceed expeditiously in distributing trust property to the persons entitled to it,” Bierwirth said. “That seems to be the standard that the court adopts here. After finding that there is a fiduciary relationship, UBS is obligated to act fairly and in the best interests of the beneficiary. Part of that obligation is to distribute the proceeds in a timely manner.”

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