How can we get money out of a deceased person’s bank account without a letter of testament or lost Will?

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How can we get money out of a deceased person’s bank account without a letter of testament or lost Will?

My brother-in-law’s wife passed away about 2 months ago. His work checks get put into the bank and money is put into 2 different accounts in his wife’s name. He has the credit card for that but the bank refuse’s to give to him due to wanting a POA and a letter of testament or lost Will. We do not know of any Will. He uses those accounts to pay on the mortgage and they will not help he with getting his money out.

Asked on November 13, 2011 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Most accounts are set up with certain rights of survivorship.  If the account's in his wife's name did not set up something like that to give him access, then he may have to take some active steps to resolve the estate.  A fairly simple method for estates without wills and with little or no property is to file a affidavit of heirship.  Some county clerks will make the form available to you.  It needs to be filled out completely, filed, and then submitted to the judge in your county that handles probate matter.  Before he jumps through this hoop, he may want to make sure that this is what the bank will accept and a letter of testament.  If the bank continues to be difficult, you may want to hire an attorney to help with the affidavit of heirship or to file a probate.  The affidavit should not be very expensive.  A probate will cost a bit more, but will help resolve several future issues like titles and taxes that could result from a dissolution of the estate. 


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