Clarksville, TN asked in Banking, Civil Litigation and Contracts for Puerto Rico

Q: How can I close my dad’s bank account and used money to pay off his funeral expenses?

My dad passed away 2 years ago in TN but he had his bank account and house in PR. He has a bank account in PR which I was authorized to used and I had power of attorney from PR while he was alive. I paid for his funeral even though he has 7 children. After paying via loans my half siblings (4) do not want to grant me a power of attorney so I can close his account and pay of my loans. My 2 full siblings have no problem with granting me the poa. What can I do to get this matter resolved? My dad also sold his house to a friend but they never signed any legal documents and now friend is requesting the house be transferred under his name.

1 Lawyer Answer
Rafael  Pagan-Colon
Rafael Pagan-Colon
  • Business Law Lawyer
  • San Juan, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: First off, you would need your dad's death certificate. If he granted his last will & testament, a certified copy of the will must also be provided. In the absence of a will, a petition should be filed with the Puerto Rico courts (depending on the city where the house is located) to establish a declaration of heirs locally, since your father left assets with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. For this petition each and every heir's birth certificates should be provided to the court. If any heirs are deceased, their corresponding death certificates must also be provided.

Once the courts issue the declaration of heirs, letter will need to be sent to the banks in Puerto Rico, to obtain certification of account balances to include in the estate tax filing which must be submitted to the Puerto Rico Treasury Department.

The estate tax filing to be presented to the Puerto Rico Treasury Department should include the value of all of your late dad's assets: real estate properties, bank accounts, as well as certifications of any outstanding tax debts which either he or his real estate properties may owe. Perceiving that your dad was a resident of Tennessee, the PR Treasury will probably determine taxes owed base upon the value of the estate and bank accounts.

After all taxes owed are paid, and once the Puerto Rico Treasury Department issues its lien waiver for the estate, THEN and only then, can you go to the Puerto Rico banks with a copy of the waiver and a copy of the court's resolution to request funds from the banks. All heirs - either personally or through powers-of-attorney - will need to appear at the banks simultaneously, to pick up their allotted participations of the available balances.

At the moment of determining how much for each heir, you can bring to bear your receipts of the expenses paid in favor of your late father's estate, to be reimbursed for the proportionate amounts that correspond to the other heirs, before doling out the rest of their participations.

It'll be easier to address these matters through an attorney; who can procure the power-of-attorney from your willing siblings; and maybe try to establish communication with your other 4 half-siblings, either directly or through their respective attorneys. Do any of these 4 half-siblings reside in Puerto Rico? Have they retained their own attorneys? How do they propose to attend the legal proceedings in Puerto Rico?

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