It is not clear whether or not the business is a sole owner or an LLC or corporation which would be a separate entity. Different results for different answers.
Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the asnwer was a good answer tab below. Thanks. Mr. Geffen is licensed to practice law throughout the state of Texas with an office in Dallas. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States and is licensed to practice in US Tax Court as well as The Court of Claims. This answer is provided as a public service and as a general response to a general question, it is not meant, and should not be relied upon as specific legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.
I will open by agreeing with my colleague above in saying that from your stated facts it is not clear whether the business is a sole proprietorship, LLC or corporation and depending on which form the business is there will be different results and answers.
In short, it may be difficult, whether it be through corporate filings or the probate court, to obtain the release she needs to obtain information from the bank about the business account. This situation, based on the facts you presented, sounds like one of the many unfortunate situations where even a simple estate plan would avoid this potentially difficult situation.
In any event, in order to provide you with further useful information it would necessary to discuss the situation, gather additional facts and formulate a plan to assist you. You should definitely discuss this with and retain an attorney to assist you.
While I realize many people prefer to handle matters themselves, for this one, you should contact a qualified, local attorney with experience in handling this type of case (I have experience with these type of cases) for a consultation so that the attorney can gather all the necesasry facts and provide you with useful information to handle the matter yourself, or to assist you with the situation.
Also, remember, this is a public forum and anything posted here is not privileged or confidential, so do not post more specific information here... Contact a local attorney for a confidential and privileged consultation.
I invite you to use the links available on this page to locate my avvo.com profile and CONTACT ME AT MY OFFICE for a personal consultation, because the information provided in the above answer is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be legal advice. It is general information that is incomplete and may not specifically apply to your particular circumstances, so you should not act upon it until discussing your situation with an Arizona attorney. Every case is unique. Most legal principles have important exceptions that may apply in your case. You should actually talk to an Arizona lawyer regarding your situation before taking any action or declining to take action. As mentioned above, I invite you to contact my office, but please note that contacting my office in any way, submitting your question on this site, my general response above, and any further communication whether electronically, by letter, or by telephone, does not create an attorney/client relationship. You will know when my office represents you because you will have received a signed representation agreement. Please do not send or communicate any confidential information until you receive a signed representation agreement with an attorney.
To add to the responses above, if the account is held in the name of a formal business entity (eg, John Smith LLC or John Smith Inc.), the person who owns the membership interest or the stock has to establish authority to deal with the bank on behalf of the entity. However, if there were no other members or shareholders in the business, or the entity has been administratively dissolved (eg, not filing annual reports), the bank may be willing to deal with the wife directly as the heir to the property. Your use of the term "affidavit" hints that the bank may be looking for a "small estate affidavit" - a procedure described in Arizona Revised Statutes 14-3971(B), which allows the heirs to collect personal property of the decedent, outside of probate court, if the net value of all personal property does not exceed $50,000.
I recommend that you gather any documents you have regarding this business (eg, corporate record book, most recent tax return), a list of all of the assets and debts of the decedent (and the values), and the bank statement, and sit down with an estate and trust specialist to assess your options. If an affidavit is appropriate, then the process should be fairly inexpensive. If an affidavit would be inappropriate (eg, significant assets or significant creditors claims against the husband), the the wife needs to know that before she take any steps.
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