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Account Frozen After Mother's Death

My mother passed away and her bank accounts have been frozen. My question is, why would someone's account be frozen? Who informs the bank of a client's death. Who would request for the account to be frozen? For how long are accounts typically frozen after someone dies?

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These are all questions that can only be answered with an understanding of the law of the state in which your mother resided. It may be that the bank has frozen the accounts strictly as an administrative measure to ensure that no one transacts business without authority. It may also be that there has been some outside action taken to freeze the accounts.

Ask the bank why the accounts are frozen, but the bank is waiting to find out who will be the court-appointed representative of your mother's estate. Only that individual has any authority to do anything with your mother's accounts (unless they were joint accounts).

As for how the bank learned of your mother's death -- funeral homes are legally obligated to notify the Social Security Administration when someone dies. If the decedent's social security payments are deposited electronically each month (most are), the Social Security Administration sends the bank a notice of death. It's also possible that the bank learned of your mother's death by reviewing newspaper obituaries.

Published on BankingQuestions.com 4/26/07