What do I do on frozen bank funds (mother and father deceased)? 27 Answers as of May 22, 2013

My father died in December 2009 of cancer (etc.); my mother who had dementia/alzheimer’s at the time of his passing lived until January 2013. I was given "Durable POA" before my mom and dad passed. There is a Living Will as well as Last Will and Testament for each parent. Each named all children and also named me specifically as their sole beneficiary for everything. There wasn't a car and the house was sold to pay their 90k mortgage. The funds my father had saved were used to pay for the 24/7 care. My mother needed and I was present always. We went to her two banks before she went deeper into her dementia along with my sister, one bank put me on the account as they were supposed to; the other added me to the account but for some reason they say I have to have something from a judge saying I am their "personal representative". I have combed the documents and it specifically states such in their wills. What else is needed? I'm worried as this specific bank has merged with another bank. Thank you for your help.

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Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
It appears that your mother's estate is small (under $100,000 and without real property); hence, no probate of the estate is required. You can transfer elements of the estate by affidavit.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 5/22/2013
Noel Law Firm | Elizabeth V. Noel
Was a 'payable on death beneficiary' named on the account?
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 5/22/2013
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
Unless there is a lot of money on the table, you do not need to start a probate and be named personal representative; that would be overkill. If the total funds are less than $25,000, an affidavit to the bank will suffice. If they are more, but less than $75,000, then a Small Estate Affidavit will suffice. If the money in the bank is more than $75,000, then probate is needed. Do yourself a favor: go see a lawyer who does probate. The banks will dance you around, getting their advice from "legal" which is in California or some other such wasteland. You need somebody on your side who knows their way around.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 5/22/2013
Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
Depending on your state, you can consider a Small Estate's Affidavit. If that doesn't work, you may have to probate the estates.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 5/22/2013
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
It sounds like the bank is asking for court recognition of your position as personal representation or executor of your mother's estate. This is obtained by filing your mother's will with the local probate court and obtaining Letters of Appointment (it may be called different things in different states) identifying you as the person with authority to close the estate. If the request from the bank occurred prior to your mother's death, it may be that the bank wanted some sort legal recognition of your position as your mother's power of attorney agent for financial matters. As your mother had dementia, the bank may have felt that she was no longer capable of granting you power of attorney status. In that case, you would have needed to get court approval to serve in that capacity.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 5/22/2013
    Dennis E. Valentine Law Firm
    Dennis E. Valentine Law Firm | Dennis Valentine
    The bank's reference to your being a personal representative means that the bank believes at the time of death for your father or mother or both that some of their funds at that bank were in the names of your parents. A Durable POA is only valid while your parents are alive. After their death, property in your parent's name may require a court to name you as the personal representative. The amount of money and the type of property will determine whether that is necessary in your case. I suggest that you contact an attorney who does probate representation.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    You need to go to court and start a probate proceeding and get an order appointing you the personal representative. Take the order to the bank and you will get the money. You can probably do this on an informal probate basis.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Edward L. Armstrong, P.C. | Edward L. Armstrong
    The fact that the bank in question has merged should not make a difference. As to the bank account that is in dispute - how did your name "get on the account?" If your mother was incapacitated mentally, she couldn't but if you had a POA from her that was durable you could have added your name. The question is, with regard o the disputed account were you a joint owner with right of survivorship? Banks are notorious for cause problems like this but for them the documentation is the key. You should hire an attorney. It may be you will need an order from the probate court but the type of order depends on the details of the situation which you have not provided.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP | Kathleen DeLacy
    If accounts total $30,000 and the house was sold after their deaths you would have needed to open an estate then you would have been given a Short Certificate stating you are Personal Representative.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
    If you were added to the bank accounts jointly (or made a "payable on death" beneficiary), then the money should automatically belong to you without any probate. It sounds like someone may have made a mistake and did not add you to the account, in which case, you will have to open a probate in order to have access to the money. There are two types of probates, summary and formal, and which one is used will depend on whether there are any creditors in your mother's estate, and how much the account is valued at. You should probably speak to a probate attorney to discuss your options.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    A "personal representative" is an executor or an administrator appointed by a court. Find an attorney who does probate work. There may be a way to avoid a legal proceeding, or at least to keep the process as simple as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    You would have to go to probate court to be appointed personal representative. The banks are within their rights to as for the Letters of Administration saying you are the PR of the estates of your parents. You will need to see an attorney familiar with probate.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
    You need to file a probate action in the county where your mom last resided. To be appointed personal representative AND to have the assets assigned to the beneficiaries. You will need her death certificate and the original will. It will be easier to do with an attorney but unless a lot of money is involved its potentially too much expense. There is a 1 day simplified probate procedure but that assumes no will and splits the funds between all beneficiaries at law (you and your sister) so.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
    You need to probate the estates of both of your parents.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    Depending on the amount of money in the bank, probate may not be necessary. There are a number of small estate proceedings available. Please contact me with more details and I would be happy to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
    In Maryland, if the bank account you mention is a probate asset (not a joint account or payable to you upon the owner's death), and there is a valid will, then the personal representative will need to file a petition to administer the estate, and be appointed by the Orphans' Court/Register of Wills to have authority to deal with the probate assets(s). Bank merger(s) will probably not change the bank account, and that is common.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    LawWriter
    LawWriter | Jane Simon
    Are you named the personal representative in the will? Usually wills will name a personal representative.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/21/2013
    Law Offices of Terrell Monks
    Law Offices of Terrell Monks | Terrell Monks
    Your parent's Will can be seen as instructions to the probate court. The probate court is tasked with receiving and interpreting the Will and assuring that it is followed as far as the law allows. The will (like assembly instructions) does not do anything itself. The Probate Court appoints the Personal Representative (usually the person nominated in the Will) and the Letters Testamentary that the Judge signs will allow you to withdraw the funds from the bank account.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 5/21/2013
    Michael B. McFarland, P.A. | Michael B. McFarland
    Talk to an attorney about informal probate.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 5/21/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    You need to open a probate estate, get appointed, have letters issue, proceed with noticing creditors and otherwise administer the estate. You may be able to use a small estate/ set aside administration if all creditors have been paid in full. I suggest that you meet with counsel where your mother resides at the time of her death.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 5/21/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    If the amount is less than $150,000, you can do a small estate affidavit and close the account. Be careful if you siblings make a claim to it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/21/2013
    Ben T. Liu Law Office
    Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
    You will need to probate your mother's estate. Depending on the amount of the estate, you may be able to use a small estate procedure.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/21/2013
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    In order for you to be appointed the personal representative by the court, you have to initiate the probate process. Generally, probate is started when the estate assets are over $150,000.00. You should contact a probate attorney to discuss whether a probate is needed in this matter.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/21/2013
    Sanford M. Martin, P.A. | Sanford M. Martin
    It appears that the bank requires an appointment of you as Personal Representative of the estate by a probate judge. Some banks require such confirmation and may do so. Merely because a last will appoints you as Personal Representative is not sufficient for some banks. You can file the last will and death certificate, petition the court to appoint you as personal representative, however, you will need an attorney to represent you. It seems that if the bank actually added you to the account as a joint account holder, it would not be necessary but perhaps they didn't add you to the account but just as an agent named in the DPOA.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Arthur H. Geffen, P.C.
    Arthur H. Geffen, P.C. | Arthur Geffen
    The wills need to be probated. Call a local probate lawyer. Depending on the size ofvwhat remains there may be some shortcut procedures available.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    The Law Office of David L. Leon
    The Law Office of David L. Leon | David L. Leon
    You will likely need to go to probate court and probate that will. That will get you letters testamentary, which will give you access to anything titled to the estate.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
    My answer depends on the amount of the funds. 1.) An affidavit of Successor's Interest could work, A small estate may need to be filed, or an informal probate may need to be filed. You should contact an attorney who can answer your questions.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/22/2013
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