Accessing Bank Accounts
If you were a co-signer or had a joint account with the deceased, the first thing you must do is notify the Bank or other Financial Institutions of the death. Provide the bank with a certified copy of the death certificate as well as your personal identification.
As a co-signer or in a joint bank account with the deceased person, you should be able to use some of the money in the account to pay the regular bills of the deceased. There are different options for bank accounts that determine whether a survivor can access the funds and then pay out accordingly. A co-signer is a patron who lends credibility to the account signer at establishment by providing a guarantee for credit score and payments of debt. In many instances, the co-signer does not have regular access to the account for use or statements. In a joint account, both patrons must contribute their credit score and can access funds and account details at any time. For joint accounts “with the right of survivorship” the survivor owns all of the money in the account, but you still must notify the bank of the death.
Once you have access to the funds in the bank account, you will need to pay off all debts before distributing any assets to family and friends. Keep detailed records of all the bills you pay and any withdrawals of cash from the account.
If you are not a co-signer or in a joint account with the decedent, you must work within any wills or testaments provided by the decedent. While it depends on the banking institution’s requirements, you’ll generally want to have copies of the Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary. If these are not applicable, contact us and we can provide legal advice to help you move forward.