Taking from deceased’s bank account?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Taking from deceased’s bank account?

My mother died last week and mere minutes after she passed, my aunt asked her
aide to return my mom’s debit card. Aunt claims she ‘needed to pay the aide’
and also yelled ‘did you know your mom had 20K in her account??’ She also
broke into my mom’s home, because she said she saw two undeposited checks in my
mom’s house.

Is it legal to use my mom’s debit card after she died, and be looking at the
balance? Mom left everything to me and my brother and Aunt was not a name on
the account. It’s important to mention we don’t consider ourselves to even OWN
that money, as my mom was in bankruptcy and near foreclosure, so everything
gets absorbed by her debt before/if we even see it. Because of that alone,
NOBODY should be allowed to touch her bank account.

Asked on April 26, 2018 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If it was a joint bank account, the other joint account holder could access the money and, in fact, the money in the account will likely become hers after your mother's death.
But if it was a non-joint account (or it was a joint account, but your aunt was not one of the account holders, as appears to be the case from what you write), then she has no right to access the account after your mother passes away. If she does, the estate's executor or personal representative could sue her, on behalf of the estate and heirs, to recover any amounts or money she has taken.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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