Q&A with Loraine: Out-of-state-probate

Question: I am the executor of my father’s estate and have sent all the paperwork to the bank to liquidate his accounts. However, the bank doesn’t seem to want to release funds from my father’s accounts. What can I do?

Background: I have been appointed executor of my dad’s estate. Because I live in a different state from my dad, I hired an attorney, and she got his will probated. I have reached out to different places to send the letters of testamentary. Despite the fact that my father’s bank has received all the paperwork (hard copy of his death certificate, the letter of testamentary and a notarized photocopy of my ID), they have not issued me a check. The bank’s representative is stating that she needs to send the information to their law department and I’m trying to figure out why. It’s been a week since I’ve had that conversation with the bank representative, and I have not heard from anyone there since then. I’m just trying to figure out what my options are. Any advice will help. I tried contacting the attorney that I hired but I can never catch her in the office.

Loraine’s Answer: Please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. As for your question, it is fairly common for banks to have their legal department review documents that are submitted for a decedent’s estate before they release funds. They want to make sure that everything is correct, so they don’t get sued for giving funds to the wrong person. That can take a while especially during the pandemic with so many people still working remotely. If it’s only been a week, I would give it a couple more weeks. If you still haven’t heard anything after a couple more weeks, then you should try contacting the bank again.

Key Estate Planning Takeaway: Banks routinely have their Legal Departments review the paperwork related to the liquidation of an account associated with a deceased person. There are legal reasons for this additional layer of approval, so expect account liquidation approval to take several weeks. Probate and estate administration includes many situations where things do not happen quickly, and rushing an estate administration is not generally a good idea anyhow. Patience is a benefit for executors, administrators, and beneficiaries.

This “Q&A with Loraine” blog series features answers from Morgan + DiSalvo Partner Loraine DiSalvo to questions posted on www.avvo.com. A key takeaway from each exchange highlights an important facet of estate planning.

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