On February 2, the Wall Street Journal had published a great article on estate planning entitled “What a Tangled Web We Leave,” discussing the various problems people have when loved ones die. There is a common theme in the article – one that I’ve discovered myself.
From the article: [the surviving spouse’s] biggest obstacle: the checking account. Her bank, HSBC, told her it couldn’t remove her husband’s name from the joint account. Instead, she would have to close it and open a new one, even though the British unit of the same bank had removed his name from a joint account held in the U.K.
Another person in the article: “I went to the bank and told them I needed to take [his deceased spouse’s] name off the account. I go home and my electronic banking was gone,” he says. “I just expected everything to roll over and her name to come off and my name to stay on. I didn’t expect my electronic banking to vaporize.”
On one hand, I understand that they are holding money and don’t want to give it out to the wrong person. However, I’ve found that they often don’t know the law, or don’t follow the law. It’s becoming more difficult to get banks to honor powers of attorney, to open certain types of estate accounts, to give information to attorneys who are authorized by their clients to receive it, etc.
I don’t have a solution just yet – just a bit of venting. It is a good article though. If you’re interested in probate you should check it out.