A story out of Jacksonville, Florida highlights some of the problems that can occur if you don’t take the time to adequately address estate planning issues. Julia Bolena, a widow who would have been married to her husband for 53 years, recently tried to access her deceased husband’s Wells Fargo savings account. Even though she and her husband had been married for half a century and she was listed as a joint account holder on her deceased husband’s checking account, the bank prevented her from accessing the funds in the savings account.
Apparently, Bolena was not listed as a joint account holder on the savings account, nor was she listed as a transfer on death beneficiary. She was also not given financial power of attorney or listed as executor over her deceased husband’s estate.
Further complicating matters, Bolena contacted a local Florida probate court and asked what she could do. The court clerk informed her that it would cost her $250 to obtain a letter that would allow her to transfer the savings account funds. However, there is only $273 in the account, and Wells Fargo continues to charge a small inactivity fee each month.
Bolena is a retiree who lives on fixed income, and the $275 could help her greatly. Unfortunately, she does not appear to have an easy way to access the funds. Had she been listed as estate executor in her deceased husband’s will, been included as a joint account holder on the savings account, or listed as a beneficiary, the problem could have been easily avoided.