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  Home >> Special Situations >> Deceased Individuals  
Accessing Funds of Deceased

A trustee passed away leaving good trust documents. However, he had only a checking account which was not in the trust. I, the successor trustee, had POA on the account until death. Now, the bank stopped my access to the account. The bank balance is 5K, funeral expenses are 4.9K. Is there a way to get access TO the balance with very little expense?

Because the funds were not part of the trust, they are outside your reach as trustee. Because the individual has died, your authority under the power of attorney is ended. Accordingly, the funds are now part of the individual's estate.

The bank can tell you whether state law will permit it to pay the funds out of the account for final expenses. Some banks will pay such a bill from a small balance account when state law puts the funeral home at the top of the priority list of claims on a decedent's estate, as is the case in most states.

Alternatively, the bank can tell you if a $5,000 balance in a decedent's account can be paid out to a next of kin under state law. If so, the bank will require the next of kin to provide certain documentation to substantiate his or her claim.

The place to go for answers is the bank holding the account. The bank may refuse to discuss the question at all except with an estate representative or an immediate family member. If you won't fill either of those roles, you may need to pass the responsibility to someone with whom the bank will discuss the question.

Published on 10/01/09