By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Estate & Probate Administration Attorney

An accountant was representing an estate that has a gross value of approximately $80,000 – $100,000. One of the beneficiaries is the decedent’s sister. The other beneficiary is the decedent’s Ex-Girlfriend who remained a joint owner of some of the decedent’s accounts. New Jersey has entered an arbitrary estate value assessment from the Division of Taxation in the amount of $300,000 service TD Ameritrade provided a date of death balance for their joint account. However, two Florida banks are refusing to provide date of death balances for two small joint accounts. They will only speak with the ex-girlfriend who lives in Florida, but she is uncooperative. What can be done to obtain the date of death balances from the Florida banks?

The decedent’s sister is the executor. Also, the decedent died a domiciled resident of New Jersey. He maintained these accounts in Florida even after he moved back from Florida.

One option is to send a death certificate reflecting he died in NJ and was domiciled in NJ, together with letters testamentary to the bank. As the one account was owned with his girlfriend, it will be subject to NJ Inheritance Tax (she is a Class D beneficiary) unless the sister can show NJ that all the funds in the account were those of her deceased brother.

Another tedious and uncertain approach is to work your way up the bank’s legal department and if necessary threaten and then follow through if necessary with a complaint to the banking commission. If they are national and have a NJ branch you could try sending the request to the NJ branch and work your way up from there.

But remember this, the accounts are not in the estate so the executor has no authority over them. Consult Florida counsel whether the banks can be forced to provide balances short of an NJ judgement given full faith and credit.

To discuss your NJ Estate & Probate matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.