I am the administrator of a deceased person's estate.

I am the administrator of a deceased person's estate. How do I get access to her Bank of American checking and savings accounts? I have letters of administration from a court. She was a New York resident. She opened the account in New Jersey. I took the letters of administration and a death certificate and a certificate from the court to a branch bank expecting to receive a cashier's check for the money. Instead, they made a copy of the certificate of administration I got from the court and told me to call the Estate Unit in a few days. They said New Jersey law applies because New Jersey is where she opened the account. What do they mean by this?
Mary asked this question 3 years ago
  • Bank of America • 1945 answers • 94% helpful

    Mary, when accounts are opened with any bank, in addition to federal regulations, the treatment of the account falls under state law. In the case of estates, New Jersey operates in a unique manner, requiring the request to close a deceased customer's account to be reviewed by the state department of taxation prior to the release of any funds.
    Once you have submitted the request to New Jersey and it is approved, the state notifies the bank to release the funds.
    There is no argument that this is a complicated process but it is not one the bank has any power over. Everything will be taken care of once all the state-required steps have been taken.
    • M
      At Bank of America's suggestion I called a surrogate's court in New Jersey and told them I needed to get a letter of administration from a court in New Jersey in order to have my sister's bank accounts released to me, as the administrator of the estate. The clerk I spoke to said this was, and I quote, "bullshit" and that I did not, in fact, need such a letter. She suggested I return to the branch in New York or try a different one. I can understand that the New Jersey Dept. of Taxation and Finance wants to be notified when there's a new estate it may have a claim on. But I don't understand why I need to get another letter of administration since I've already been appointed administrator by the surrogate's court in the county in which she resided. It seems to me only one court should have jurisdiction in these matters. What if one court says I can be the administrator and another court says I can't? These bank accounts that were opened in New Jersey are the only assets my sister had, so if my letter of administration from a New York court is no good, that means I've wasted several hundred dollars in filing fees. It also means the lawyer I consulted on how to go about this was incorrect and that that $250 consultation fee was a waste, too.
    • M
      Can you help me get my mind around how the law works here? Having different administrators over different assets seems unworkable to me.
    • Bank of America • 1945 answers • 94% helpful

      I'll try, Mary. Your actual letter of administration should be universally accepted as defining your role as your late sister's administrator/executrix/or whatever terminology is going to be used. The only additional step that I am familiar with, referring to estate matters in New Jersey, deals solely with the possible taxes. Having worked for several years in the support area for banking center associates (that would make me one of the people they call when they don't know what to do), I can't imagine why an associate in a New York branch would say anything about administrator paperwork. Perhaps the clerk had it right when she suggested visiting another branch -- but I definitely advise you to ask anyone making the statement about administrator letters to contact their Helpdesk personnel for clarification. Quite often, and sadly, even banking center managers have been known to not know what they're talking about. If they resist picking up the phone, go to another center and be sure to file a complaint. Their job is to help you, not give you the runaround!
    • M
      Thank you for your helpful response. Now Bank of America is saying my case has gone to the "Escalation Unit". Why has Bank of America not contacted me to inform me of this step ? Instead I only found out about it because I tried going to a different branch and they told me. What is the Escalation Unit and how can I find out who is handling my case there? Someone at the branch mentioned New Jersey's L8 form. When I google it, it says the L8 is a self-executing waiver for estates less than $625,000. But it also says that in the case of non-NJ-resident decedents, no waiver is needed. So why is New Jersey even involved. My sister lived in New York for the past 4 years.
    • M
      What is the Escalation Unit? How can I find out who the person is who is handling my case? Should I try contacting the New Jersey Division of Taxation myself to see what the problem is or let Bank of America handle it? How can I find someone at Bank of America to tell me exactly what the problem is and what is being done?
    • Bank of America • 1945 answers • 94% helpful

      Mary, when associates in a branch run into a situation or question they can't handle, there is a back-office (non-customer contact) unit that will pick it up for solution. By calling the customer service number and asking to speak to THEIR escalation line, they can follow up on this for you.
      I know it sounds odd to call for help with a branch issue but that is one of several departments I've been with in the bank and I've done very similar things for customers.
      Give them an opportunity to help and this may get resolved.

      And I'm not sure where the L8 is coming in here. My fingers are still crossed for you!
  • Bank of America • 250 answers • 90% helpful


    Bankbuster is correct in that each state has their own rules and regulations around deceased account holder's accounts. If you have already sent all the information in, your best bet is to follow the instructions of the BOA reps and allow the process to take its due course. New Jersey is a funny state where it does have a state approval process before funds will released to the administrator of the estate.

    I would actually suggest to go back into the branch you initially went in to and call the Estate Unit with the representative that originally assisted you. That way there is no way for any communication to be lost and to ensure that you are able to receive the funds in a timely manner.

    Hope that helps and good luck!

  • 1706 answers • 88% helpful

    This expert is helping you out because there weren't many active Bank of America experts.

    If you still didn't got right answer to your question, you can talk to Fredrick Niemann, Probate Law and Estate Administration Attorney at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com or call him toll-free at (855) 376-5291.

    I think he can help you in this matter...
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