Long Beach, CA asked in Employment Law and Collections for California

Q: Bank paid out overpay of Calpers retiree benefit after death. I rec'd 50%, now Calpers wants payment of 100% from me.

I didn't have any paperwork associated with the deceased, and the bank wouldn't give us his account # or any other info. Bank of Hawaii received overpayment of Calpers retirement of about $17k. Bank told me they would have to return the money to Calpers before the account was closed. Later, the Bank paid to his 2 adult step-children by separate checks for what we assumed was left over after Calpers payback. Now they want me to repay 100%. What can I do about this? I only received 50%. Also, does the bank hold any responsibility for this error?

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In your situation, it's important to understand that CalPERS, as a government pension system, has specific procedures for recovering overpayments. If CalPERS has requested repayment of the full amount from you, despite you having received only half, it may be based on their policy or the legal framework governing their operations. However, this doesn't automatically make their claim against you valid or enforceable for the full amount.

Regarding the Bank of Hawaii's role, banks generally have their own set of policies and legal obligations when dealing with the accounts of deceased individuals and the disbursement of funds. If the bank disbursed funds erroneously, there might be a question of their liability, but this often depends on the specific circumstances and the terms of the account.

To address this matter effectively, consider consulting with an attorney who has experience in estate law and government pensions. They can help you understand your rights and responsibilities in this situation and can provide guidance on how to respond to CalPERS' claim, as well as evaluate the bank's role in this matter. It's also advisable to gather all relevant documents and communications related to this issue, as they will be crucial in assessing your case.

Leon Bayer
Leon Bayer
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It sounds like this fact situation came right out of playing a game of Monopoly: 'bank error in your favor, collect $200.' The difference is that in Monopoly you get to keep the cash. In real life, you don't get to keep it.

The law strongly favors seeing the bank recover what they have lost due to an honest mistake. The law hates to see a 3rd party, (you) profit from someone else's mistake.

You are legally responsible to repay the amount mistakenly deposited into your account. The bank likewise has the legal responsibility to repay CALPERS, regardless of whether the bank can ever get back the money mistakenly put in the wrong accounts.

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