My father set up 2 separate checking accounts and named my brother and I as beneficiaries on each account. My stepbrother having Power of Attorney and being appointed as Executor of his estate closed both accounts right after he died before we were able to remove the money. When we questioned him about this he said that our Dad had no right in naming us as his beneficiaries on the accounts. We will be splitting the estate with 5 other step siblings. Did he have a legal right to close both of these accounts. Both accounts totaled $50,000.00. I know my father wanted only my brother and I to receive this money.
The executor of an estate has broad powers to take action regarding the assets of the estate. Most often, an executor must receive permission from the court to take the kind of action you describe. And then, the money taken from the banks would have to be accounted for.
You will probably need to consult with an estate attorney in Oregon, or wherever your father's estate is being administered.
I agree with my colleague's statement that you need to consult with an attorney. Your brother may be violating his fiduciary duty to the estate and its heirs. I did want to clarify for you that a Power of Attorney is no longer in effect after a person dies. If in fact your father put you and your brother as beneficiaries on an account, your Executor brother would have had to change this beneficiary designation before your father passed away. Otherwise, when your father died, the bank wouldn't have let him withdraw the money and close the account if there were beneficiaries named. This is one risk of appointing someone as an agent under a Power of Attorney because oftentimes you are giving that person the authority to make these types of changes. Furthermore, it is also a lesson learned that a Will would have also helped in this situation.
I also agree that you should consult with an Oregon probate litigation attorney regarding these acts. Ordinarily, accounts that have proper beneficiary designations on them are not probate assets and are not subject to the control or authority of the executor. I'm also a little surprised that the bank went along with this, so you should also ask whether the bank has any liability for dispursing the accounts other than in compliance with the designation. Your father had every right to do whatever he wanted to do with these accounts, even if those acts were different than the ultimate disposition set forth in his will. Act quickly on this!!!!!
This response contemplates only the laws of Ohio and is not intended to apply to other jurisdictions. None of the information in this response should be used or relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion about specific matters, facts, situations or issues. Viewing it does not establish an attorney-client relationship between you and Sherrille D. Akin, the law firm of Isaac, Brant, Ledman & Teetor LLP, or any of its individual attorneys
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.What determines Avvo Rating?Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline