Santa Clara, CA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California

Q: Is power of attorney all that's needed to get access to deceased mothers bank account

My mother recently passed away. I have a will and a power of attorney signed by my mother. I am her sole survivor. The bank will not allow me to access her bank account saying that I need to go to the county and get a small estate affidavit and/or appointment papers as the executor/administrator. Is this true?

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3 Lawyer Answers
Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Mill Valley, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Sorry for your loss. A power of attorney expires when the person who gave it dies. So, you can not use the power of attorney to access the bank account. You can use a small estate affidavit if the estate is small enough, but it is not something the County will provide for you. Otherwise, you need to file for probate of the will. By the way, you are supposed to lodge the will at the county courthouse in the county in which your mother last resided.

Nina Whitehurst and Tim Akpinar agree with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

Julie King
Julie King
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Monterey, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Unfortunately, no. Powers of Attorney work while the person who signed it is still alive. Once that person passes away, the Power of Attorney becomes void. If your mother’s total assets combined add up to less than $166,250, then you can use a document called a Small Estate Affidavit. If your mother’s assets total more than that amount, you will likely have to go through a court process called probate in order to access your mother’s accounts. See a probate lawyer in your area if you need assistance. Best wishes.

Nina Whitehurst and Tim Akpinar agree with this answer

Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Carlsbad, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: No. The power of attorney lost its authority when your mother passed away.

Nina Whitehurst and Tim Akpinar agree with this answer

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