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Are you going through the probate process and need to open an estate account to pay the decedent’s bills and creditors? If you’re working with a probate lawyer, they should handle everything for you. If you’re doing it yourself, all banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Etrade will be familiar with your needs, and ready to help you open an estate account. Here’s a simple guide.

 

What is an estate account for probate?

An estate account for probate is typically opened with the assistance of your probate lawyer. However, any executor appointed by a probate court is authorized to do so, as well. If you’re doing it yourself, it’s often most convenient to open the estate account at the same bank as the decedent.

In what state, should I open an estate account?

Open an estate account in the state where the decedent lived and the court appointed you as executor to handle the decedent’s affairs.

How to open an estate account

Most banks will allow you to begin the process of opening an estate account by phone. Simply call their Estate Unit. You will be asked for the following:

  • Decedent’s legal name
  • Decedent’s social security number
  • Decedent’s financial account numbers
  • A new tax identification number for the estate (EIN)
  • One certified copy of the death certificate

Then, the bank will provide you with a case number. This is the number you’ll use on all documents provided to the bank.

How to get an EIN number for an estate account

You will need a tax identification number from the IRS to open the estate account. This ID number or EIN, should be for the estate only. You can apply for this number online on the IRS website by clicking here.

Should I open a checking account or a combined brokerage account?

For simple estates, a checking account is great. However, for complicated estates, particularly estates that hold securities investments, we typically open a combination brokerage and cash account. Remember, if you’re working with an experience probate attorney, they’ll handle it all for you.

Are all estate accounts the same at Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Etrade, USAA, and other financial institutions?

Most estate accounts are similar at top banks. Here are links to the estate account applications at some popular nationwide banks:

  • Etrade Estate Account Application
  • Bank of America Estate Accounts
  • Wells Fargo Estate Accounts
  • TIAA Estate Accounts
  • PNC Estate Accounts
  • TD Bank Estate Accounts

How much does it cost to open an estate account?

In many cases, opening a checking account is free. Opening a brokerage account may incur some initial fees. You may also have to transfer some of your own personal funds into the estate account to fund it, which may include associated fees. If you’re working with a probate lawyer, they will handle all the fees and funds needed.

Is an estate account necessary?

It is highly recommended that the executor open an estate account to properly track and account for payments made to estate creditors. This is especially true in cases wherein an estate’s probate process lasts over a year, wherein estate taxes will be paid only once during the probate process.

What can be paid out of an estate account?

Bills owed by the decedent will be paid from the estate account. Keep in mind that not all bills may need to be paid. To determine which bills should be paid, and which need not be paid, it’s best to speak with an experienced probate lawyer.

Closing an estate account

After distributions have been made to heirs and beneficiaries, you will file a final accounting of the estate with your probate court. This includes records of disbursements, receipts, and costs attributed to the executor of the estate. Then it’s time to close your estate account. Simply contact your financial institution, and they will guide you through the closing process.

Do I need a probate lawyer near me?

It often helps to work with a probate lawyer near you. However, it’s more important to retain a probate lawyer who is familiar with the county probate court in the decedent’s county of residence. For example, if the decedent lived in Los Angeles, the executor may consider retaining a probate attorney familiar working with the Los Angeles Superior Court – Probate Division.

Need help opening an estate account?

At RMO Lawyers, we help people like you everyday. So, call anytime, we’re happy to offer you a free consultation: (424) 390-9444

About RMO Lawyers, LLP

RMO LLP serves clients in Los Angeles, Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Kansas City, San Diego, Miami, Anaheim, Orange County and communities throughout California, Florida, Missouri and Kansas. Contact us for a free consultation: https://rmolawyers.com

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