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Problems opening an estate bank account

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Latest post Mon, Feb 13 2006 1:55 PM by Drew. 2 replies.
  • Sun, Feb 12 2006 5:27 AM

    • oshelef
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Thu, Jul 29 2004
    • Posts 1

    Question [=?] Problems opening an estate bank account

    I am the administrator of a small NY estate (i.e. under the small estate classification of the surrogate court). However, I live in CA, and I am having a hard time opening a bank account for the estate. I'm told by the several banks (all with NY branches) I've visited (in CA) that they cannot open an account using the NY letter, and that must be done with a NY branch. They have also said the account must be opened in person - not over the mail or some other remote method.

    Is there some other way to open an account or can I distribute the funds in a way to avoid opening a bank account?

    Can I instruct the current funds holder (brokerage house) to distribute the funds in several checks to pay creditors and heirs directly (so as to not need a bank account)?
    Can I desposit the assets in to my own account and then distribute them (of course, with a careful and complete accounting)?
    Can I authorize someone else to act on my behalf to open the estate bank account?

    Thank you.
  • Sun, Feb 12 2006 10:57 AM In reply to

    re: Problems opening an estate bank account

    I am a NY lawyer. Without seeing the letters, in general there is no reason you can't open an estate bank account with regular letters - the size is not relevant - with a national bank - like Chase or Citibank (not that I am endorsing any bank in particular) that has a branch also in NY. (Look at your oath and designation) If the letters are restricted, this is a different story and would depend on the exact restriction. In person is not relevant - just ask for the forms, give the tax id, letter of instruction, and once you mail the required info., there should be no need for you to go in person. I have clients that I have never met, but have opened estate accounts for them - even international.
    In order to distribute directly from the brokerage account, you likely would first have to transfer the proceeds (even at the same brokerage) to an estate account. Then depending on the terms of the will, you could distribute from the estate brokerage account.
    No, you can't deposit the money into your account - this is comingling of funds and is a breach of your fiduciary duty.
    You can't appoint somenone to be your agent as executor. If you can't act, perhaps you should resign. Good luck.

    Sharon M. Siegel, Esq.

    Siegel & Siegel, P.C.

    Phone: 212-721-5300



  • Mon, Feb 13 2006 1:55 PM In reply to

    • Drew
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
    • PA
    • Posts 51,431

    re: Problems opening an estate bank account

    I suspect this is a question of practical issues vs legal issues.

    If you can get the brokerage to issue checks in proper amounts why not?

    If I set up a separate new account in CA in my name, so as to not comingle funds, and used same to process estate issues, and did so in proper amounts I suspect I'd not be headed to jail.

    I don't know the book proper answers.

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