Poulsbo, WA asked in Estate Planning for Washington

Q: Father died without a will, need to close his bank account. need all the help i can get.

The bank says I need the death certificate (which I have) and a letter testamentary (which I do not have). There are only two heirs to consider, myself and my brother, and we are already in agreement on disposition. My father died in Texas (his state of residence) and I live in Washington state. I don't know if that is any complication but it is nonetheless a fact in this matter.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Paul Premack
Paul Premack
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Licensed in Washington

A: Since your father resided in Texas and died in Texas, any action on his estate needs to happen under Texas law. I am licensed in both Texas and Washington. You can ask the bank if your father specified a "Pay on Death" beneficiary for the bank account. If so, they should release the funds to the named beneficiary with only the death certificate and filling out some of their forms. But I suspect that there is no "Pay on Death" designation because the bank asked for Letters Testamentary.

Since your father died without a Will, you cannot get Letters Testamentary. Instead, the route for you would be either a) getting Letters of Administration and a Determination of Heirship - which is complex and expensive, or b) using a Small Estate Affidavit if the total of your father's assets is below $75,000.

You should have a consultation with a Texas attorney to explore the options available under these facts.

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