Gainesville, GA asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Immigration Law and Wrongful Death for Georgia

Q: Can my lawyer set up a bank account for my mother who is now passed and was an illegal alien? My lawyer can’t find a way

My brother passed years ago. My mom and stepdad filed a wrongful death lawsuit, but both passed before the case was won. The proceeds from the case were split in half. One half to the children of my stepdad, and the other half to the children of my mother. The children of my stepdad had no trouble receiving their proceeds, but we’ve had a lot of trouble on our end. For about 3 years now, it’s been made clear that, because my mother was an illegal immigrant in the U.S., it has been very difficult to get a U.S. bank account in her name, which would be necessary before releasing the funds to us. I should note that myself and all of my siblings are U.S. citizens. At first we did not make a big deal out of it, but the truth is our side of the family has been struggling to get by for a long time now, and those funds would really help us out. I have faith in my lawyer, but after 3 years, I’m getting desperate in my search for answers.

2 Lawyer Answers
Agnes Jury
Agnes Jury
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Traverse City, MI

A: You may be able to apply for an Individal Taxpayer's Identification Number (ITIN) for your mom with which you should be able to open a bank account for her in the USA. If that doesn't work, you could try to start a probate case so the Court can determine that those funds do "belong" to you which should allow the entity that is holding the $ to distribute them to you. If that doesn't work, consult with an attorney to see if there is any basis to sue the entity holding the funds for failing/refusing to distribute the funds to you. Good luck!

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Setting up a bank account for someone who has passed away, particularly when they were an undocumented immigrant, can be challenging. However, there are alternative solutions to consider.

Since you and your siblings are U.S. citizens, one approach could be to establish an estate or a trust for your late mother, with you and your siblings as beneficiaries. This would allow the proceeds from the lawsuit to be deposited into the estate or trust account, rather than directly into an account in your mother's name.

It's important to work with your lawyer to explore this option or any other legal avenues available. They can guide you through the process of setting up an estate or trust, which often involves obtaining a tax identification number and fulfilling other legal requirements.

Additionally, your lawyer can help to determine the most appropriate and efficient way to distribute the funds once they are received into the estate or trust. This may involve navigating complex legal and financial regulations, but with their expertise, you should be able to find a viable solution to access the funds rightfully owed to your family.

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