FOX43 Finds Out: Success Stories

When you open a bank account, you're probably not thinking about who will end up closing that account when you die.

It may be a little morbid though it is something experts say families should be talking about.

After helping two people get their money back, FOX43 Finds Out makes sure you have all the proper paperwork when it comes to your family's bank accounts.

"It`s a shame that you should have to fight a bank to get what`s, I don`t want to say rightfully mine, but rightfully our family`s."

Todd Lau was trying for months to close his late mom's bank account.

Back in July, his parents died 16 days apart

.Each of his parent`s had a will.

His mother`s will left everything to his father - and vice versa.

Lau set up an estate for his father which he thought would mean he could put everything for his mom and dad in that.

When he tried to close his mom's Bank of America account, he was told he would have to set up an estate for her too.

That would cost more than what was actually left in her account - which was $777.

"All of a sudden, as soon as you contacted them they wanted to play ball," said Lau.

A few weeks after FOX43 Finds Out contacted the bank on Lau's behalf he was able to close his mom's account and get the money back.

Lau said, "Account's closed. Yup. Everything worked out good."

Jonathan Snyder was in a similar situation.

His wife passed away and he tried to close her bank account at BB&T bank.

He went to a branch with her death certificate and a copy of the funeral bill.

The bank still did not close the account.

Not only was the account still open, it was also being charged an "inactive fee" of $7.50 per month.

"Having contacted them three times and it finally taking FOX43 to get involved before they were willing to refund the money," said Snyder.

When FOX43 Finds Out got in touch with BB&T bank the inactive fees were refunded to Snyder.

He was also able to close the account.

"I`m totally certain that the only reason I got my money back is through the help of FOX43 news."

Since both Synder and Lau thought they had enough papework to close the accounts - we wanted to talk with an expert to make sure this doesn't happen to other people in the future.

The Sharon Miller, the operations manager at First Capital Credit Union in York says this happens all the time.

"You want to make them comfortable. Understand what their needs are and try to walk them through the process."

She says you'll need a few things:

1. The original death certificate.
2. If the person had a will , make sure you have documentation stating your the executor of the estate.
3. If they didn't have a will you'll have to petition the courts to be named the administrator for the estate.
4. You can be added as a joint owner of the account.

There`s a catch though with that last one.

In order to close that account, you`ll have to prove all the money in that account belongs to your loved one.

Also, be aware there's an inheritance tax in PA which could impact how much money you'll actually get.

For the most part though, closing an account with a couple of hundreds dollars shouldn't be that difficult.

"One of the things in Pennsylvania, depending on the assets that are in the account, if the total balances that are in the funds are less than $10,000 typically we can close out that account directly to that surviving family member," said Miller.

We also reached out to the state Department of Banking and Securities for advice on the situation.

We were told, your best bet is to call the specific bank ahead of time and make sure you have all the proper paperwork before you show up.

The department also said "Generally, a consumer would want to contact the bank within a reasonable amount of time and ask what its policies are in regard to closing the account. Most often that will include a death certificate and funeral bill. While the two stories you sent do not involve state-chartered banks, our Consumer Services Office will still gladly assist any consumer with this type of issue."

They can contact the Office at 800-PA-BANKS or online: http://www.instsearch.pa.gov/Contact.aspx.

Here are a few references that may be useful, as well:

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/US/HTM/2013/0/0035..HTM

https://www.fdic.gov/deposit/diguidebankers/documents/death-account-owner.pdf

If you have a story you want Jackie to look into, FOX43 wants to find out.

Send Jackie a message on Facebook or send an email to FOX43FindsOut@FOX43.com.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.