A recent Los Angeles Times column by David Lazarus detailed the ongoing practice by Bank of America of deducting monthly fees on a deceased man’s checking account – and the catch is, it’s perfectly legal.
Rocco Bersane died in March 2013 without a will. At the time he died, he had a Bank of America checking account with about $1,175 in it. Bersane’s son contacted the bank, and said he was left with the impression that the process to claim the money – which is allowed by California probate law after 40 days from the date of death for amounts totaling less than $150,000 – was complicated, and that he would need to pay several hundred dollars in attorney’s fees to make the claim. He decided it wasn’t worth it.
Under California law, any unclaimed bank accounts must be turned over to the state three years after the death of the account holder. However, until then, it is perfectly legal for banks to continue to charge service fees. BofA continued to charge Bersane’s account $12 per month, even though the bank acknowledges it knew that Bersane was dead and that he had a legal heir.
This problem could have easily been avoided if Bersane had executed a will, or even had a Payable-on-Death notification attached to his checking account, which would have given his son ownership of the funds once the bank was notified of the death.
The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0041.