My father has passed away and he has a bank account with someone we do not know?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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My father has passed away and he has a bank account with someone we do not know?

We wanted to know how to obtain this information or to see if we have any rights. If I become an executor of his estate will I have any legal rights to find out this information? When we spoke with him before he passed away he did not remember who the person was either so we are not sure what to do at this point. The bank will not give me any information such as this womans name or anything and I am at my wits end.

Asked on June 13, 2017 under Estate Planning, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you are the executor (if there is a will) or court appointed administrator (no will) of the estate (which position[s] may also or instead be called "personal representative" of the estate), you will have the legal authority to access his bank accounts and get information about them. So the first step is to contact the probate court (with the will appointing you executor, assuming there is one) and have the court issue an order or "letter testamentary" appointing you to one of these positions; then you can the information about the account, the same as your father could. The court clerk's office can provide you information about how to apply for this.
Note, however, that if the account was a joint account with right of survivorship, then if the other person is still alive, on your father's death, it automatically became the other person's account and they will get the money in it; it will not be part of your father's estate or go to this heirs or beneficiaries.

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 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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