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Episode 15: Can The Executor of a Will Access Bank Statements?

Posted on Wed Jun 12, 2024, on Klenk Law Podcast


Estate Planning Lawyer, Peter Klenk

Can The Executor of a Will Access Bank Statements?

Hello, today we’re going to talk about whether an executor of a will can access bank statements. It’s a fairly specific request, but we hear from people all the time. It really just boils down to the general concept of what information an executor can obtain.

So let’s talk about that. The executor is the person who files the will and then becomes the person in charge of the estate. The county appoints them based on the will, and that person is then tasked with gathering all the assets, paying the bills, and executing the plan. That’s where the name “executor” comes from.

To do that, the executor is given very broad powers. They’re able to gather any information that you could have obtained yourself. This includes your tax records, bank records, financial information, medical records, and anything else you could have accessed. Now, banks don’t keep records forever. In general, it’s seven years, but as long as they have something, if the executor requests it, the bank should turn it over.

Sometimes, however, the bank or other institutions might refuse. What do you do then? You have the legal right to get the information, but you can’t force them directly. You need to get an order telling them to turn it over. Our firm would file a petition with the court to get such an order. The order will say to release the data, and they will release it. Once you have that data, you can follow up on it as needed.

For example, if it shows checks went to somebody, we can find out who those checks went to. If there’s a deposit, we can get information from the bank about that deposit. Whatever information they have, we can obtain. Let’s say there were beneficiary designations on accounts—can we get copies of all the information about those designations? Yes, we can, and we can follow up on that information in any way that’s required.

If it turns out something was incorrect, like someone stealing money, we can pursue that. We can bring them into court and have them explain or get an order from the judge to return funds.

We can also investigate when someone was an agent over the deceased person before they died. For example, if someone was the power of attorney and might have stolen money, can we pursue that? Yes. The executor’s job is to gather all the assets, including those that might have been stolen. We can get information from the agent and even require the agent to file an accounting and be deposed about their activities. The executor can usually pursue anything that might bring funds into the estate.

If the agent doesn’t cooperate, we would file a petition to force them to comply. This is something we handle frequently.

So, can the executor access bank statements? Absolutely. You might need help getting it, but that’s what we can do. If you have any questions, feel free to email us or call us and set up a time to talk if you have an issue as an executor in getting information.

You, as the executor, can hire us as part of the estate’s expenses. There’s an expectation that you’ll hire professionals to help you, and you’re not expected to know everything. We can work for you, get the information, and help you close the estate.

Again, wonderful talking to you all. Please like and subscribe. Stay tuned for further podcasts. If you have a specific question in mind, please feel free to reach out to us.

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