In this episode, the Haggler abandons his usual droll introduction, despite knowing how much readers appreciate a little lead-in drollery. But it doesn’t seem appropriate for a story that is so sad.
Q. My son, Michael Truskowski, passed away on Nov. 14, 2013, in San Francisco, after a brief and violent illness, caused by a rare genetic mutation that no one knew he had. He was 27.
Like a lot of young people, Mike died intestate. Unlike many young people, he listened to his mother and opened a 401(k) and a Roth IRA when he started working. He also left money in two accounts in Bank of America.
We started a foundation at Mike’s alma mater and intended to donate savings from all these accounts to a scholarship fund that will support students with an interest in music, one of Mike’s passions. Easier said than done.
I first contacted Bank of America, where Mike had a total of $7,500, last December. I was directed to the estates department, which took down information and asked if I could bring the paperwork — death certificate and my ID — to a local branch. I did so the following day. A customer service rep assured me that she would fax the information to estates.
After hearing nothing, I followed up a week later. A rep in the estates department said it had never received the needed information. I sent it again. This repertoire of calls, lost information and constant recounting of facts continued for months.
It wasn’t until March that B of A asked for documents that I didn’t have, including a New Jersey tax form and a tax ID. (Mike grew up in New Jersey, and the account was opened there.) In utter frustration, I called the lawyer I had retained in California for help. He contacted Bank of America twice. Both times, he was assured that we would soon receive a check.
Months later, we have nothing.