How can I collect funds from a pre-paid debit card for a deceased relative?

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How can I collect funds from a pre-paid debit card for a deceased relative?

I prepared my son’s tax return 3 months ago and put the refund on a pre-paid card and he passed away afterwards, the company holding this refund is refusing to release the money to me as I’m his mother and only living relative, he had no other assets to collect, I have given them a copy of death certificate, notarized letter stating my request of his refund and copies of both photo ID’s of me and my son and they still are asking for an executor of estate which I know nothing about because my son had no estate so do they have legal rights to hold this money? Thank you

Asked on July 22, 2018 under Estate Planning, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Everyone has an estate; "estate" is the legal term for the money, property, and other assets left behind by someone who passes away, from which final expenses or bills are paid and which are then distirbuted to the people who will inherit when the estate goes through probate (or if it is a small-enough estate, goes through the alternate, simpler process provided for small estates). Money owed to the person who passed away does NOT go directly to that person's heirs or beneficiaries; it has to go to the estate first, for later distribution. Money cannot be released directly to heirs or beneficiaries but MUST go to the estate. That means that the only person to whom they can release the money is the estate's "executor" (if there was a will naming a person as executor) or court-appointed"personal representative" (if there was no will), since those are the people who have the legal authority to manage/supervise the estate.
If you are not the executor personal representative, therefore, they can't give the money to you legally. Therefore, to get the money, you need to be the executor or personal representative. If there was no will, you need to apply to the probate court to be made the personal reprsentative for your son's estate. If he was not married when he passed and did not have adult children, as his parent, you are the logical person to be personal representative; if you apply to the court to be appointed personal representative, the court should do so. You can contact the clerk's office in the probate court in the county where your son lived for instructions on how to be appoined personal representative. 
Once you are appointed, you can share the letter or document appointing you with the company and they should then release the funds to you.


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