Do I have recourse against broker?
In my recent divorce, I was awarded 100% of my ex's SEP (retirement) account which was being administered by Merrill Lynch. The broker that we had always dealt with at ML told me that in order for the funds to be distributed to me, I would need to provide ML with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) that had been filed with the court. I proceeded to have an attorney draft the QDRO, and he charged me $350 to do so. The attorney sent the ML broker a courtesy copy of the proposed QDRO draft, asking him to look it over and make sure that it fulfilled ML's requirements. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from someone else in the broker's office, advising me that I did not need a QDRO, but simply had to provide ML with a copy of my divorce decree and complete one of their distribution forms.
I attempted to speak with the broker personally, but (surprise, surprise) he has not taken my calls. I believe that either ML or the broker individually should bear responsibility for the $350 legal bill that I incurred due to the erroneous information that the broker gave me about needing the QDRO. I mailed and faxed the broker the legal invoice, requesting that he take care of it ... but heard nothing. As the legal invoice went past due, I decided to go ahead and pay the attorney, but seek reimbursement from ML. Last week I sent a certified letter, along with another copy of the invoice, to the broker and the CEO of ML in New York (as if that'll do me any good), demanding reimbursement by the end of November.
Now, I realize that $350 isn't going to make me or break me, but I don't feel that I should have to pay for something that was said to be a requirement in order to get my ML funds, when it really wasn't a requirement. Bottom line - do I have any recourse against ML and/or the broker? If you were in my shoes and ML remained unresponsive, would you consider an action in small claims court?
Thanks in advance for any advice.