Bank Account

Bank Account

My sister died. I had power over medical decisions.I never got power of attorney. She had no children. How can I get her money from her bank?


The following looks at each point in your question to help give you some guidance:

  • My sister died....Did she have a will? If yes the will might govern how her bank account is distributed following death. If she had a will and specifically stated in in that you should inherit that account, or if you were the residuary beneficiary (the person who inherits whatever is left after other bequests if any) then that provision in the will might determine whether you or someone else inherits that bank account.
  • I had power over medical decisions.... This has no relevance to the disposition of your sister's assets, in fact you often are prohibited by law from combining financial powers with health care decisions.
  • I never got power of attorney.... A power of attorney is a legal document in which your sister would have named you agent to handle her tax, financial and legal matters. A couple of points are important. First, on your sister's death her power of attorney automatically terminated. So even if you were named her agent, your sister's death would have terminated your rights as agent. Further, if you were your sister's power of attorney you would have to use that power to benefit your sister, etc.
  • She had no children....This would be important because they you, rather than children, might well be listed in the will as the heir. It might also mean under the state's intestacy laws (the laws of the state where your sister was domiciled at her death) you as a sibling might be the next of kin to inherit (children, had their been any) would have come before you.
  • How can I get her money from her bank? .... If your sister had a will and it named you executor and as beneficiary, then you would collect all her assets, pay her bills and then distribute the bank account to you as the intended heir. If your sister died without a will you would have to determine from your state's laws of intestacy (who inherits when there is no will) whether you were in fact the heir. If you were able to recieve the bank account on this basis, the account if part of your sister's estate would still have to be used to meet estate expenses first.

A couple of other points to also review with the estate/probate attorney you hire:

  • First, verify the name and ownership (title) of the bank account. If there is an "ITF" (in trust for) or similar designations then in fact the account may be yours for the taking. Find out the title.
  • If you live in an estate with an inheritance tax, you might face a tax burdent.

Given the potential complexity with what you proabably thought was a simple question, play it smart and have a probate attorney help you.

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