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RayAnswers
RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 29191
Experience:  Texas lawyer for 29 years in Estate law
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It would help if the estate attorney had some experience with

Resolved Question:

It would help if the estate attorney had some experience with banks. A Texas attorney might be best, XXXXX XXXXX question deals with Texas law.

My aunt passed away. Her brother was named as Independent Executor of the estate. I am a beneficiary of my aunt's estate. I have no doubt that my aunt left four bank accounts to me. The Independent Executor (my aunt's brother) of the estate was Joint on the four accounts. I know estate law fairly well. I know as a Joint on the bank accounts, the bank can not stop her brother from taking the accounts, since the bank doesn't ask who put in the most money. I know for sure that the accounts were not left by JROS or POD.

I know that I am a beneficiary of the estate and that the estate is a third party beneficiary of the contract between the bank and the decedent. Since the bank gave the four banks account to the Joint on the account which is also the executor of the estate, the bank is in fear of being sued.

The bank is refusing to show me the signature cards on the four accounts. I even filed a lawsuit against the bank in order to try to get the bank to release the signature cards on the four accounts. They are refusing to release the signature cards in any way.

QUESTION :

I need to know any case laws or black letter laws that I could use in order to get the signature cards from the bank.

John
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your question and good afternoon.I am a Texas lawyer and have handled estates and probate for both individuals and banks.

You have remedies here.Your remedies would be through probate court in the county where the estate is located.You have a right to an accounting here.You can also file a motion with the court here to force dislcosure of this information through probate court.It is not a bank issue but rather the executor has a fiduciary duty which he may have violated.If you discover through probate discovery the information you seek then you can file motion to remove the trustee.

As a party here--an heir your lawyer can depose the executor and send interrogatorries(written questions) and motion for production fof documents -the signature cards, bank statements ,etc.

I don't think you can prevail here in suit against the bank.They have privacy concerns and a court may agree.Why not consider going to probate court and seeking to obtian the information through the executor and then removal if you uncover wrongdoing.

The bank accounts if they are regular joint accounts here would be considered part of the estate.If they are not survivorhisp accounts under Texas law they should have been frozen until the executor presented letters.But even from that point forward the executor can convert these to estate accounts but he has a fiduciary duty to the estate and the heirs to account for them.These would not just be his funds here.

You have multiple remedies here through probate court.As far as a civil suit honestly I could not locate any alw that supports such disclosure to a third party.The probate court can if necessary order the executor to provide the requested information as part of their fiduciary duties.

I think you need to consider a change of direction to probate court.As an heir there you clearly have standing to force discovery and then seek removal if you identify wrongdoing.

You could start here by making a motion for discovery to the excutor with a copy to the probate court seeking the signature cards and information relating to the specific accounts as well as an inventory of assets.All of these are reasonable.

If the executor refuses your request you would then file a motion to compel.At a hearing here on your motion you then have right to call the executor as a witenss and examine him under oath as well as seeking court orders to compel production.

Again this may be a different direction that you have taken but it is one that has hte best chance to get you the information as an heir based on the fiduciary duties of the executor.

There aren't cases here on this issue that you present because again honestly a lawyer would take a different direction through the probate courts to force disclosure.
You just aren't likely to prevail in a civil suit here against the bank given the privacy issues.Sorrry again being honest and trying to give you a better chance to succeed.

It has been my pleasure to assist you today.If you have more follow up please just ask.

You may also want to consider a local probate lawyer here to purtsue this on your behalf.You can locate one through the state bar lawyer referral.At least consider consulting with one you get a half hour for $20 locally face to face.You are bound ot at least get a second opinon to confirm.

Lawyer referral

http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Lawyer_Referral_Service_LRIS_

Right to an inventory here/

§ 250. INVENTORY AND APPRAISEMENT. Within ninety days after his qualification, unless a longer time shall be granted by the court, the representative shall file with the clerk of court a verified, full and detailed inventory, in one written instrument, of all the property of such estate which has come to his possession or knowledge, which inventory shall include: (a) all real property of the estate situated in the State of Texas; (b) all personal property of the estate wherever situated. The representative shall set out in the inventory his appraisement of the fair market value of each item thereof as of the date of death in the case of grant of letters testamentary or of administration, as the case may be; provided that if the court shall appoint an appraiser or appraisers of the estate, the representative shall determine the fair market value of each item of the inventory with the assistance of such appraiser or appraisers and shall set out in the inventory such appraisement. The inventory shall specify what portion of the property, if any, is separate property and what portion, if any, is community property. If any property is owned in common with others, the interest owned by the estate shall be shown, together with the names and relationship, if known, of co-owners. Such inventory, when approved by the court and duly filed with the clerk of court, shall constitute for all purposes the inventory and appraisement of the estate referred to in this Code. The court for good cause shown may require the filing of the inventory and appraisement at a time prior to ninety days after the qualification of the representative.Texas Probate Code here also provides for removal of an executor for breach of fiduciary duties and self dealing..

§ 149C. REMOVAL OF INDEPENDENT EXECUTOR. (a) The county court, as that term is defined by Section 3 of this code, on its own motion or on motion of any interested person, after the independent executor has been cited by personal service to answer at a time and place fixed in the notice, may remove an independent executor when: (1) the independent executor fails to return within ninety days after qualification, unless such time is extended by order of the court, an inventory of the property of the estate and list of claims that have come to his knowledge; (2) sufficient grounds appear to support belief that he has misapplied or embezzled, or that he is about to misapply or embezzle, all or any part of the property committed to his care; (3) he fails to make an accounting which is required by law to be made; (4) he fails to timely file the notice required by Section 128A of this code; (5) he is proved to have been guilty of gross misconduct or gross mismanagement in the performance of his duties; or (6) he becomes an incapacitated person, or is sentenced to the penitentiary, or from any other cause becomes legally incapacitated from properly performing his fiduciary duties. (b) The order of removal shall state the cause of removal and shall direct by order the disposition of the assets remaining in the name or under the control of the removed executor. The order of removal shall require that letters issued to the removed executor shall be surrendered and that all letters shall be canceled of record. If an independent executor is removed by the court under this section, the court may, on application, appoint a successor independent executor as provided by Section 154A of this code. (c) An independent executor who defends an action for his removal in good faith, whether successful or not, shall be allowed out of the estate his necessary expenses and disbursements, including reasonable attorney's fees, in the removal proceedings. (d) Costs and expenses incurred by the party seeking removal incident to removal of an independent executor appointed without bond, including reasonable attorney's fees and expenses, may be paid out of the estate.
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.
Here is an in depth and well written article about your rights as an heir in Texas as well as your remedies which I covered above.This article pretty much has the Texas case law on these issues.It may well serve you well in probate court here to seek such information and to compel it and remove executor if necessary.

http://ccba.willsandprobate.com/Handouts/3-11-11%20Burdette%20outline.pdf

Thanks again for letting me chat with you and provide you information and reference.I wish you good luck here.Certainly you shoudl not concede these funds if they should be part of the estate as they lack a right of survivorship.
RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 29191
Experience: Texas lawyer for 29 years in Estate law
RayAnswers and other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you

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