Last year, Julia Bolena, lost her husband of 53 years to cancer. Since then, Mrs. Bolena has been trying to access her husband’s Wells Fargo savings account without success. According to a Yahoo! Newsreport, she was named as a beneficiary of her husband’s Wells Fargo checking account, but not on his savings account. A representative from Wells Fargo stated that she does not have any rights to the account because she was not a joint owner and it was not set up as a “payable on death” account. She can only access the account, which holds approximately $273, with a Power of Attorney or documents establishing that she is the executor of his estate from the local probate court in Florida. A representative from the probate court told Mrs. Bolena that it would cost her $250 to obtain the necessary documents.
Mrs. Bolena’s situation demonstrates how proper estate planning is crucial regardless of your net worth. Situations like these can often be avoided by simply understanding how your assets are titled and how they will be distributed upon your death, and if necessary, executing or updating a Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney.