My brother passed away after I sent him money to buy a car for me. How do I get the money back?

My brother was helping me buy a used car from afar.
We found the car, he test drove it, we transferred
money directly to his bank account from ours, and he
passed away suddenly before we bought the car. I
have extensive text messages with him about it and
proof the money came from our account. In fact, out
accounts are still linked. His wife says the bank says
it’s frozen and nobody can access it because the
account is in his name, not hers.

Asked on June 8, 2017 under Estate Planning, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if the money was a loan, not a gift, or was given to him to purchase something for you (and assuming that you can prove this, as it appears you can), you are entitled to be repaid by the estate. To do this, the wife will need to get letters testamentary (as they are often called) from the court, or otherwise be appointed by the court as the estate's personal representative; that will give her the legal authority to access the account.
If she refuses to do this, you could sue the estate for the money; in the course of the lawsuit, a court could order that she obtain the necessary authorization.

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