Vancouver, WA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Washington

Q: Why is the bank refusing to allow me to open an estate account for my mother?

My mother died in oregon and left a will assigning me as executor. I took the original will, the death certificate and the small claims affidavit to the multnomah county court house, paid the fee of 149.00 and paid extra for 5 certified copies.

They kept the original will and sent me the 5 certified copies of the documents I’d filed with them. The bank refused to open an estate account saying that I needed a letter of administration or issuance of testimony or a certified affidavit of claiming successor and I needed to go to the multnomah county court house to get that. I already did!

I have a check for 1000 from insurance made out to the estate of my mom and that’s the only reason I needed to open a bank account. I’m wondering why I didn’t get a form assigning me to be the representative or whatever is required. Why did I even have to file the form I did if it doesn’t help in any way move the estate forward. I’m near tears with frustration. Please advise!

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Washington, the process of opening an estate account typically requires specific documentation that proves your authority as the executor or personal representative of the estate. While you filed the small claims affidavit and obtained certified copies of the documents, the bank is specifically asking for a "Letter of Administration" or a similar document.

This letter is issued by the probate court and formally appoints you as the executor or administrator of the estate, granting you the authority to manage the estate's assets, including opening a bank account. The filing you did may not have been the step needed to obtain this particular document.

It’s advisable to return to the Multnomah County Courthouse or contact them to request the specific documentation the bank is requiring. This is a common requirement and the courthouse should be able to guide you on how to obtain it. This process can be complex and frustrating, especially while grieving, so seeking assistance from a legal professional may also be beneficial to navigate the probate process more smoothly.

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