Tallahassee, FL asked in Estate Planning for Florida

Q: How can my Mother-In-Law access her deceased sons bank account?

My Brother in Law passed and my mother in law is taking care of everything, he left a simple will which we filed with the courts stating everything goes to her, She is currently trying to get access to his bank account but the bank is saying the will doesn't state his finances the Bank says we have to get a "Letter of Administration" from the courts, As he was on Social Security for a year before passing and worked at Wendy's prior we figure he has vary little in the account but with a $3500.00 funeral bill every little bit is helping, How can she access his bank account? his will states everything goes to my mother in law shouldn't that be enough?? She shouldn't have to pay a lawyer or the courts

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3 Lawyer Answers
Phillip William Gunthert
Phillip William Gunthert
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Orlando, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Most probate matters in Florida will require a Florida Probate Attorney. The bank will not let you access those monies until some version of probate is completed if your in-law was not on account or not named as the pay on death beneficiary. Since the estate may be small enough, you may be able too file for a Disposition of Property Without Administration on your own, go online or contact the county clerk of the court to request direction on getting these documents you can file on your own if the estate qualifies. This usually applies if the assets that exist are minimal and just enough to pay for funeral and related costs as you have described, so it may work. Any Will should be copied and the original submitted to the clerk of the court as soon as reasonably possible (the law says 10 days from the passing of the individual, no one will hold you to that timeline). If there are other assets, homestead property in his name alone, or other issues, then a probate of some type may become necessary. You can start and try the Disposition of Property Without Administration initially and see if you qualify.

Marc J. Soss
Marc J. Soss
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sarasota, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Under Florida probate law, the matter could be handled in one of three (3) methods. If the value of the bank account is less than or equal to the funeral bill it can be handled through the simplest method. However, a court order will be required for the bank to release the account funds. You can handle this type of probate proceeding without the use of an attorney, however, there will be a filing fee with the county.

Cynthia Rignanese
Cynthia Rignanese
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Winter Haven, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Consider this from the standpoint of the bank -- if they pay the wrong person, and the right person shows up, the Bank has to pay out DOUBLE the money. For this reason, the Bank requires a Court Order. Depending on the amount of money in the bank account, a Summary Administration (short) Probate or a Full Probate may be required in Florida. Using a lawyer experienced in Probate will assist the family during this difficult time.

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