My parent passed away, how do I access their bank account(s)?
It really depends on their situation. There are a few questions that need to be answered before I give you my advice as it pertains to CA law.
1. Is your name also on your parent's bank account and is it payable on death?
2. If the account is in the name of your parent’s trust? The person named in their Trust as Successor Trustee will be able to access the bank account.
If the account is not in the name of the Trust, and if the gross value of the decedent’s real and personal property in California does not exceed $150,000, you can use a Small Estate Affidavit to get the account transferred into the name of the Trust. Some banks will offer this on their own forms. If the bank does not have the form, your attorney can draft one for you.
3. And finally, if your parents do not have a Trust, is the account greater than $150,000 or does the gross value of the decedent’s real and personal property in California exceed $150,000? If so, the bank will tell you that must obtain “Letters” from the Court in order to access the account. This means that you must go through Probate.
What action can you take today? Work with your parents and contact their attorney to draft a Power of Attorney and Living Trust for them.