Less Than Helpful

Make a will.  I don’t care who you are or what you have or don’t have.  Make a will.  Even if it’s a simple hand-written one leaving whoever you want in charge of your stuff (or lack of stuff) get it witnessed and notarized or whatever your state requires.  Make their life easier when you bite the big one.  Because if you don’t, here’s just one of the fun things they’ll go through: 

Let’s say you die and leave a couple of bank accounts with not that much money in them.  This is what happened to one of my family members. 

I have the bank statement.  I have the death certificate.  I have every bit of information you’d think I’d need.  Social Security Number.  Date of birth.  Etc.  I call the number on the statement (an account which happens to have been opened in California but it’s with a bank that has offices nationwide) to tell them of the death and ask what I should do to close the account.  I’m told to go to any bank office with a copy of the death certificate to close the account.  I don’t live in California, but there’s one of their bank offices near me.  And this individual didn’t die in California or Florida, but in Missouri.  But still, no problem, right?  I’ll toddle on down to the bank with a copy of the statement and the death certificate in hand and close the account.  No problem. 


First of all, I’m told laws in California differ from Florida laws and they can’t even access the account information.  Second, I’ll need more than a death certificate, I’ll need a letter of administration to get the money.  Well, truth be told, I wasn’t looking to get the money.  It’s not even that much money.  I just wanted to close the account and be done with one more detail of the estate.  But I can’t even do that without a letter of administration.  

Okay, great.  Where and how do I get this letter of administration?  At the courthouse.  Um, yeah?  Where at the courthouse?  What department?  The courthouse.  Ask at the information desk.  Okay, do I need to do that here?  In Missouri?  California?  Uh, we don’t know.  Go to the courthouse.  Can you say not helpful? 

What a complete waste of time.  Since I was only doing what the helpful person told me to do during the initial phone call.  

What I might do is absolutely nothing.  And in seven years, the account will be closed and turned over to the State of California.  And frankly, if they can deal with the aggravation they are welcome to it.

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