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How to get a bank account when joint family members have passed away

1 Answers. Asked on May 28th, 2012 on Trusts and Estates - Ohio
More details to this question:
My mom had a bank account and after my Dad passed away she added my sister to the account. My sister did not use the account for her own use, my mom just had her name on it. My mom passed away on 03/28/12, my sister had been ill for some time and after mom had passed I was helping my sister to take care of my moms finances. I would write the checks and would take them to my sister who was on the joint account with my mom, and she would sign the checks. I was paying the bills out of the account my mom had. My name was going to be added to the account but my sister passed away which was a shock to the family on 05/17/12. Now the account is frozen due to the fact my sister and mom names were on the account. Please I need help the bills are coming in for my Mom''s house, and I don''t have the money to pay them. I need advice on how I can get the account so the bill''s can be paid, now the account is in my sisters estate. Please advise.
Answers Showing 1 out of 1
Licenced in OH
Answered on May 29th, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Since it appears that the bank account was in your sister's name alone at the time of your sister's passing, only the Executor (person named via last will and testament to manage the estate) or Administrator (term used when the decedent doesn't have a last will or testament) may access the account.  Therefore, an estate needs to be opened in the state/county in which your sister lived at her passing in order for an Executor or Administrator to be appointed who can then have legal access to the account.  The good news is that depending on the value of all of your sister's assets, the responsible party may be able to expedite the probate process through an Application to Relieve the Estate from Administration (R.C. 2113.03; Form 5.0) or Application for Summary Release from Administration (R.C. 2113.031; Form 5.10).  Assuming your sister was a resident of Ohio, you can go to the county probate court for these forms or visit the website if the county has one.

It is possible that there is a payable on death (POD) or transferrable on death (TOD) beneficiary on the account, which means the beneficiary would have access to the account and the account would not be an estate asset under the control of the Executor/Administrator.  Unfortunately, though, unless you are the named POD or TOD, the bank will probably require you to be appointed Executor or Administrator for the bank to disclose the name of the POD or TOD beneficiary.  

You do need to keep in mind that you cannot use your sister's estate assets to pay your mother's bills, unless your sister is joint owner or beneficiary of the home and would be legally responsible for its upkeep if your sister was living.  You actually have two potential estates here: one for assets owned solely by your mother (possibly the house) and one for assets owned solely by your sister (possibly the bank account that became your sister's as the last living joint owner).  There are a lot of details here and it may be appropriate for you to seek advice of a probate attorney.  Best wishes.

This response is general in nature and is not legal advice. No attorney client relationship is formed by it. Further, the response does not represent the opinions or views of LexisNexis or its affiliates companies. You may wish to consult an attorney for specific legal advice.

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