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UBS Seeks Restraining Order in Dispute Over Deceased FA’s Account

By Miriam Rozen November 30, 2020

UBS is asking a federal court to intervene to protect it from competing claims to the account of its deceased former White Plains, N.Y. complex manager.

Erich Frank, the late UBS manager, had changed the beneficiary on his account to his domestic partner shortly before his death in January 2019, according to UBS’ filing with the Southern District of New York.

Both Frank’s partner and his mother have claimed they are entitled to the account, exposing UBS to multiple liabilities, the firm told the court in a November 18 filing. UBS said it is willing to pay the roughly $360,000 in proceeds to whomever is properly entitled to it, but wants a restraining order against the mother and partner, protecting UBS from their claims related to the account.

In October 2019, Frank’s mother and sister had sued UBS seeking to compel the wirehouse to arbitrate before Finra their claim to his UBS-custodied account. In that pending case, UBS had objected to the proposed arbitration since the mother is not a customer of the wirehouse.

Then, on Nov. 5, 2020, Emily Rosen, Frank’s partner, contacted the UBS White Plains branch claiming she was entitled to the account. Shortly afterwards, on November 17, Frank’s mother, Phyllis Frank, contacted UBS’ attorney through her counsel asserting her own claim to the account and advising the wirehouse not to make any payments from the account to Rosen.

A UBS spokesperson declined comment. The lawyer representing Phyllis Frank did not return a request for comment. A lawyer for Emily Rosen was not identified.

Frank had worked for 15 years at UBS. In addition to managing the complex, he had also served as a financial advisor at the White Plains branch.

While Frank lay dying at a hospice facility in 2019, a UBS broker and in-house lawyer helped the woman they describe as his live-in girlfriend transfer his assets, according to the lawsuit filed by his mother and sister. The UBS employees also helped redraft his estate documents so she would inherit the bulk of his assets, which his mother had stood to inherit, their lawsuit alleges.

Frank’s mother had previously filed a complaint with Finra against the wirehouse, although a Finra case specialist ruled on Oct. 1, 2019 that her complaint was ineligible to be heard by one of its arbitration panels.

In its answer to that Finra complaint, UBS claimed that when the late advisor Frank learned in December 2018 that no further treatment would halt the progression of his colon cancer, he told a fellow UBS financial advisor and colleague that he wanted Rosen to inherit his assets held at UBS and to be the beneficiary of his life insurance policy.

“As any friend would do in a similar situation,” the colleague “complied” and “worked to set up a call between Mr. Frank and the UBS Benefits Express team,” the UBS answer stated.

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Tags:  Regulatory/legal issues , Estate planning , UBS

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