erhaps showing its firm belief in the afterlife, Bank of America has continued to charge fees to the bank account of a man it knows died nearly half a year ago.
According to the L.A. Times’ David Lazarus, the account holder passed away in March. Before then, his disability checks had been direct-deposited to his BofA account on a regular basis.
The bank even acknowledged in writing that it had been notified of the customer’s death, but that didn’t stop it from charging $12 monthly fees to the account, which only had around $1,175 in it when the man passed away.
“Is it wrong morally? Yes,” one probate attorney explains to Lazarus. “Legally? No. The law says they can get away with it.”
The issue involved is that the account-holder did not have a will at the time of his death. Per California law, after 40 days a person’s heirs can attempt to lay claim to any amount below $150,000.
The late man’s son says he talked to the bank, but was given the impression that it would require so much paperwork and hundreds of dollars in legal fees, so it probably wasn’t worth going through all that hassle for the few hundred dollars that would remain.
Additionally, while California law requires banks to hand over inactive bank accounts to the state for safekeeping after a period of three years, the banks can keep charging maintenance fees during that time. In this case, that would ultimately deplete more than one-third of the amount in the late customer’s account.
However, Lazarus contends that this portion of the law is intended for situations where the bank doesn’t know the status or whereabouts of an account-holder. But the bank has already acknowledges that it knows the customer is deceased and that he has an heir.