This is a common concern among many of our Louisiana succession clients. When a person dies, the family is left with the task of locating life insurance policies and bank accounts. It can be a white knuckle experience as those left behind search for money to help them get back on their feet, especially if the deceased was the primary breadwinner and left behind young children. A question we get often is “How do we know what accounts or life insurance policies they had?”
While there is no sure way to know for sure without some digging, (there is no registry for these accounts), there are a few ways you can begin your search.
First, let’s talk about one way to find accounts that will take a great deal of leg work, but can be a fruitful endeavor. Let’s run an example: Mom died and left behind a last will and testament in Louisiana, naming Daughter as the executor of her estate. The other children are asking about other accounts that Mom may have owned and each gives stories about going to the such and such bank with her to make deposits. Daughter comes to our law firm and we set her up with paperwork to get her confirmed as the executor of Mom’s estate through the court system. The court then issues certified copies of what is called “Letters of Independent Executorship.” This gives Daughter the power to go to financial institutions where she believes Mom had accounts and do a search. The institutions she visits will then be able to disclose to Daughter account information upon presentation of the Letters of Independent Executorship.
If you live in a small town with few banks, your search may not take long. However, larger cities could have you searching for days.
Another thing you can do is check their mail. Statements usually come monthly, so you could theoretically locate the bank account information that way. If Mom set up her account to receive her statements electronically, you may have a harder time unless you know her email password. Also, go back and find her tax returns from years back. There’s a good chance you can find helpful information there. Many tax returns are deposited by direct deposit. You may not find the exact account number, but at least you may find out which bank she used. You can then bring your Letters of Executorship that our firm assisted you with and take it to the bank manager to help you locate the accounts.
While there may not be a central registry where you can inquire about property and assets owned by a deceased family member, there are numerous ways you can search to locate bank accounts and life insurance policies owned by the deceased. Our Louisiana estate planning and succession law firm can assist you with this process and show you the direction to take.
Also, keep in mind that this situation can be avoided if you come see us during your lifetime and create an inventory of property and assets and give your chosen executor of your estate or a trusted family member access to this information. This will help them wrap up your estate and put heirs in possession of your property much more efficiently as opposed to having them search all over town and potentially miss something. If you paid for an account, you definitely want your family to have the benefit of those funds and not let them go to waste in a bank account.
Come see us at the Andries Law Firm and we will set you up with an estate plan that will alleviate many problems in the future. If you have just lost a loved one and have questions about succession law, please give us a call and tell us your story.
This post was written for informational uses only and should not be used as legal advice. Reading articles on this Louisiana Succession Law website does not form an attorney/client relationship with the Andries Law Firm. Please contact our office with any questions you may have regarding Louisiana Successions Estate Planning before using any information contained on this website as the laws are complex and change often. Do not base important legal decisions on articles contained herein, but instead, give us a call to walk you through the process.
Attorney Jerome Andries
Andries Law Firm
Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorneys
Phone: (318) 229-1608
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