Back To Court

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by Joe Mudd on October 26, 2011

I’ve recently been trying to close Richard’s checking account. I know I should have done this a long time ago, but you just can’t rush some things. I would have just kept on waiting but Chase forced me into it because they started charging a “service fee” on the account. In a couple of more months the account would have been gone.

I had to make 3 visits to the bank for this, and it finally looked like things were heading to completion and they were going to issue a check and close the account. The problem is I had to deal with a different people each time I was there. The lady I talked to the last time made some calls to the front office.

As proof of my right to claim Richard’s account I brought the court order to Dispense With Administration. This order says what belonged to Richard now belongs to me.

While I was sitting there the people on the phone with the local banker lady told her I also need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate. The fact that you only administer the estate of a dead person, and therefore an order to dispense with administration means the person in question, in this case Richard, has passed away.

So I left the bank to go home for a copy of the death certificate.

Just after I walked in the door at home, the phone rang. It was the lady from the bank. The front office told her that my order to dispense didn’t apply to them because Richard’s checking account wasn’t listed on the order.

Perhaps I should do a quick review of the legal process involved here. Oh, by the way, I’m not an attorney, I don’t play one on TV, and if you need legal advice of any kind please seek real legal council.

The Legal Side of the Death of Your Child

When someone dies their estate must be dealt with. This involves taking care of any debts they left behind and distributing their assets to the proper people. This is handled in one of two ways:

  1. If the person had a will, his wishes as spelled out in the will must be executed. This means someone must be appointed to be the executor of the estate.
  2. If there is no will, termed dying intestate, the estate must be administered using guidelines provided by the state. The person appointed to represent the estate is an administrator.

Richard didn’t have a will.

Early on after his death, we went to court with the help of our attorney, and I was appointed to be the administrator of Richard’s estate. The idea of Richard having an estate still seems totally bizarre to me.

After being declared the administrator I next had to provide an inventory of Richard’s assets and also a list of any known claims against his property – his debts. Next his death is published with a call for anyone with claims against the estate to come forward. There is a six month period in Kentucky for claims against the estate to be made.

In our case Richard was a single college kid. He had no wife or children. Because he had no will and no dependents, in Kentucky Richard’s parents, us, would become his heirs and would take ownership of anything left after his creditors were paid.

I don’t know if  it works this way anywhere else, but in Kentucky there are “preferred creditors.” They get paid first. At the top of the preferred creditor list is the funeral provider. Because I paid for his funeral, I was at the top of that preferred creditor list. Richard’s estate had to reimburse me for the cost of his funeral before anyone else could be paid.

The property he left behind totalled less than $2000. The funeral cost dwarfed this amount. It was many times that amount.

This meant his estate wasn’t big enough to cover the funeral expenses. It also meant no other creditors could be paid. The credit card companies he owed money to were just out of luck.  It aslo meant waiting the state required six months would be a waste of time.

Our lawyer went to court with me and we asked the court to speed the process up. This is called Dispensing With Administration. The court acknowledged my positon as the lone preferred creditor, and that no other creditor would be paid. The inventory of the estate, both assets and liabilities were listed and the court declared Richard’s property to now be my property.

But I forgot to list his checking account in the inventory.

If common sense mattered in the world, this wouldn’t make any difference. We can only wish for that, because there is very little common sense in the world and none in the banking industry.

It should be pretty easy to figure out that adding the just over $100 value of Richard’s checking account to the asset inventory would still not bring the total remotely close to the $14,000 cost of his funeral, and the order to Dispense with Administration would still apply. It should also be obvious that after two and a half years, the six month claim period for creditors to come forward was long past, and the estate would have been transferred to his heirs a long time ago even without the order to dispense. We are his heirs.

But Chase wants to be a pain.

So our attorney is now going back into court to have the Order to Dispense amended to include Richard’s checking account.

It will take a little longer to close his account. Chase has charged another monthly service charge in this delay period. They’ll get to give it back.


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