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Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102142
Experience:  Fully licensed attorney in Texas in private practice.
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I was named the executor of my aunts estate. She passed

Customer Question

My name is***** and I was named the executor of my aunts estate. She passed September 28, 1915. I talked to a lawyer at that time and decided not to open the estate. during that time i tried to close her bank account without success, I now think she has valuables at the bank how would i gain access.
JA: Estate laws vary by state. What state are you in?
Customer: I am in Georgia but she died in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
JA: What documents or supporting evidence do you have?
Customer: Everything will, death certificate, banking power of attorney (living will)
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: What can I do now?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 8 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about your family's loss, K.

Someone in your situation has to file for a probate action.

When someone passes away, then their estate has to be distributed. The problem is that without probate - with assets such as titled property or bank accounts (those that do not have a pay on death clause) - this is hard to do. This is because you cannot switch over the assets without an order from the probate court, and simply a Certificate of Death will not do. A Certificate of Death simply states that someone has passed on, but does not give you the right to really do anything in the deceased's name.

So one files probate. Once probate is filed, the Executor of the estate gets something called a Letter of Testament/Administration (hereinafter "Letter"). This Letter will allow the Executor to switch over the assets from the deceased individual to whoever will own the property. It is like a "Power of Attorney," but from the Court. Without that Letter, there is no way to access titled property or bank accounts and switch the them into the heir's names.

If there was a Will, the beneficiaries are decided per the Will. If there was no will, the beneficiaries are decided by default succession law of the state.

If the total value of her estate was less than $50,000, then this can be a small estate administration. This is a probate done mostly by mail - much quicker and easier. See HERE.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.