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My father passed away with no will. He had no property and a smattering of random stuff my sibling and I are sorting through.

The only thing of real value is a checking account of about $100k. No beneficiary was named on the account.

However, I have his online access to his bank account. In theory I could transfer the money out as per the agreement between my sibling and I, there is no disagreement between us.

As far as I can tell there is no inheritance tax on sums of this size, especially since it’s all cash.

Am I allowed to transfer the money out of his account using his online bank access?

migrated from money.stackexchange.com Nov 18 '18 at 22:25

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  • "Online access" - were you a joint owner, or are you simply in possession of his passwords? – JoeTaxpayer Nov 18 '18 at 18:30
  • The latter, sadly – Alex Wayne Nov 18 '18 at 18:34
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    You'll probably need to get probate granted; I concur with @jamesqf, this is a legal question not a personal finance one. – Peter K. Nov 18 '18 at 20:14
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    Transferring the money sounds like a bad idea. The bank is eventually going to find out that he died, and when. They'll know that the transfer was after his death, and that nobody but him was authorized to make transfers. It sounds like a recipe for big legal trouble for you. – Nate Eldredge Nov 18 '18 at 22:36
  • There are lots of books that explain how to go about settling someone's estate. You should probably get one and read it. It'll help you learn how to do things properly and legally, and whether you can handle it yourself or if you need a lawyer. Note that many things will be specific to the state where your father lived. – Nate Eldredge Nov 18 '18 at 22:38
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You should really investigate the legally correct way to deal with the estate and the transfers of the assets; if not, you could have considerable legal and tax liability in the future with the bank (if they flag and investigate the transfers due to the death of the account holder and the size of the transfers) and the IRS (inheritance taxes), as well as other possible heirs who are not yet identified or notified of the death.

Probate laws differ greatly according to jurisdiction, so either find a lawyer or Google for free or low cost legal help in your city/county/state in order to learn how to administer the estate in a legally sufficient way to protect everyone involved. Or go to the local county courthouse and inquire. It may not take much effort or cost much in legal fees, and it's a good investment of research and time to prevent legal and tax issues in the future.

  • It will obviously vary by jurisdiction, but I would have no hesitation in recommending that a normal person in England and Wales administer a simple estate without the help of lawyers. My partner was executor for her father, and it was all very straightforward (and all bureaucrats were very helpful and sympathetic). – Martin Bonner Nov 19 '18 at 14:23
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Many US states have expedited procedures for "small" estates. What counts as small varies from stets to state. So do tax rules and inheritance rules generally. You need to get a lawyer, or check with the clerk's office in the court that handles wills and probate if you can have the estate handled without one.. If the estate is uncomplicated and small, fess should not be very large. One thing you will almost surely have to do is provide a list of all of your father's relatives, and they will need to be informed of his death. Depending on how close they are, some of them may be entitled to a share. that varies by state also. If your father owed income or property taxes when he died, those will have to be paid.

Simply transferring the money out without notifying the authorities would not be legal, I think. In fact, if the bank has heard of your father's death, they may have frozen the account.

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