deceased parents have an existing joint banking account balance. How can a surviving adult child access and close the account?
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
The banks have a pay on death beneficiary listed when accounts are open. If you take both death certificates to the bank, you can find out who the POD beneficiary is, and if it is you then you would have access.
THE LAW OFFICE OF STEPHANIE WHITE
Simi Valley, CA
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Ms. White's suggestion is correct. However, if it turns out that your parents did not designate a beneficiary for their bank account, you may need to initiate a probate case or file for administration of small esate, depending on the size of your parents' estate. You should consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.
If your parents resided in California and their estate is worth less than $100,000 then probate is NOT necessary. Take their death certificates to the bank (make sure you have "certified" copies, not photocopies) and tell the bank you want to claim the account using the Small Estates Affidavit procedure. If the bank doesn't have a copy of the affidavit, you can access it here: http://www.sfgov.org/site/courts_page.asp?id=31254
Check out the link titled "Declaration Re: Small Estate of Less than $100,000".
This information is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should accept legal advice only from a licensed legal professional with whom you have an attorney-client relationship.