What document do I need to fill out in order to gain access to a deceased persons assets?

My mother recently passed and I need to gain access to the title of her car and
her bank account.

Asked on December 19, 2017 under Estate Planning, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If there is a will and it names you as executor, you need to file it in the probate court and have yourself confirmed by court in writing as the executor.
If there is no will, you need to apply to the court to be named as the administrator or personal representative of the estate. 
Only executors (wills) or adminstrators/personal representatives (no will) have authority over an estate and the deceased assets. Once you get written authority, then you can access what she owned. You need what are called "Letters of Authority" or "Letters of Adminstration" to give you the legal power you need. 
Ask the probate court how to get confirmed as executor is there  is a will, or how to get named as adminstrator if no will--that's the question you need answered.
The above said, you *should* simply hire a lawyer to help you. Even though I am an attorney, for example, I am not a probate specialist--I know the law, but don't do it day in and out. When my father passed away, I hired a probate lawyer to help me, because probate law is highly technical: it is very easy if you are practiced in it (like playing a piano is easy if you are practiced) but difficult if you are not.

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