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AlexiaEsq., Managing Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 13549
Experience:  19+ Years of Legal Practice in Estate Law.
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I want to become the voluntary administrator of my younger

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I want to become the voluntary administrator of my younger brother's estate.
He was a California resident who died intestate and I don't know about his bank assets except that a California attourney went to the Bank of America and found out that my younger brother had his own accounts there that have been blocked due to his death. My younger brother had a significant other but no legal arrangement. I have downloaded a copy of the affidavit of his death with assets less than $150,000. Can I have this signed by a notary public in New York State and then go to the local Bank of America to find out about his accounts? That is all I want to do, but could one actually get the money in the accounts?
Hi, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I thank you for your inquiry. I have been practicing Estate law for 19 years and look forward to assisting you.

I am very, very sorry for your loss.

If this estate is appropriately a "small estate", then all you should need is the Affidavit (typically you'd want it notarized). It is not clear if the NY branch will assist, even though YOU are legally in the right, but if not, deal right with his CA branch if you can.

It can also be helpful to provide the bank manager with a copy of the CA probate statutues indicating how your paperwork means they need to comply. Here is a great narrative on the problems people often have getting banks to obey the law and how to succeed in your endeavor:

"To prepare for the transfer, download and print out a copy of the relevant statutes:

  1. California Probate Code §§13100-13116. You can find copies at Check "Probate Code" and press enter to retrieve a table of contents to the code. Scroll down to section 13100-13116, "Affidavit Procedure for Collection of Personal Property."
  2. Include the copies in your written request or hand the copies to the agent and politely ask the agent to read them, especially Probate Code § 13100.
  3. If you are dealing with a securities transfer agent, politely ask the agent to read Probate Code §§ 13100(c) and 13105(a)(2).
  4. Politely inform the agent that your use of a Small Estate Affidavit complies with California law, and that California law does not require either a probate proceeding or the delivery of Letters for the transfer to be made.
  5. If further resistance is met, politely inform the agent that if the institution refuses to make the transfer, California law allows you to bring an action in Court against the institution to compel the transfer and for it to reimburse you for your attorney's fees and costs to obtain a Court Order to Compel the Transfer. Probate Code § 13105(b).
  6. If further resistance is met, ask to speak to their manager.
  7. If further resistance is met, ask to speak to their legal department.

Be forewarned, so that you may properly prepare. In your author's experience, the grand champions of resistance to Small Estate Affidavits are:

  • Downtown branches of large banks (e.g., Bank of America, US Bank, WaMu, etc.), and
  • East coast (particularly New York) securities transfer agents.

I particulary like #5.

Remember, once you have collected the assets, they are not yours necessarily. You also need to then take on the obligations to disperse the assets in accordance with CA intestate law, once you "collect" them, including paying his "just debts", and, which, depending on his family situation, could mean that you are not an heir at all. I.e. does he have living parents? Children? Other siblings? If you are not an heir, you'd have nothing to gain by acting as the Affiant to handle his affairs, in fact, it will place legal obligations and fiduciary duties on you that if neglectfully handled, can leave you personally liable for the damages and/or subject to prosecution if assets are converted to your own purposes (theft). But that is step #2 - right now, I'd just concentrate on getting the banks' cooperation.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions.


Alexia Esq.

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