Can they freeze my mother's accounts after her death?

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My beautiful Mother went to Heaven on June 21 this year. Mam had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's two years and Eight months previous, and I was so glad to care for mam throughout her short illness. We had a great time together, reciting poetry and singing songs together every day. We lived together all my life of 56 years, and I can honestly say mam was my oldest and dearest friend. Mother was such a sweet heart and so easy to love. Alas mother passed away peacefully but suddenly while on her fifth day of her first restbite care stay. After mother's funeral when I called to our bank to withdraw a cheque for to pay the undertaker from our joined account the bank clerk said oh im sorry but the account is frozen as revenue are investigating if your late mum owed any taxes to the state. Since mother lived 87 years why could revenue not have looked into mother's affairs when she was alive ? Or could revenue adapt the moral approach ah sher shes finished with it, so we will confiscate the money. This is the coldest most heartless thing I have ever seen done in my life. I'm just wondering is this the normal thing when a loved one passes away ? Or is it legal ? I'm pretty annoyed over this to be honest.

19 Comments

How exactly did you access the account after she passed? Is your name on the account? I'm assuming that it is not, which means you could not access this account anyway. Even if you are POA, POA ends on death so it is no longer valid.

If you are the executrix of the estate as named in the will, the estate still needs to go through probate (unless all assets were in a trust with you as the trustee). Probate is the time period where all creditors (including the IRS, but also credit cards and medical bills) can be attached to what is left in the estate. So, what I think you are referring to, is that her account is in probate (which would freeze it) which is the normal way of things. Am I correct? If so, yes this is very legal and very expected. Did you speak to an elder lawyer about her estate prior to her death, before she was ill? They would/should have explained this to you.

If I am making incorrect assumptions please let me know as I would like to help you.

Angel
I don't think there is any theft going on here. The bank is just following its procedures. The money will be available eventually.

When my husband went on hospice I transferred the small amount out of his checking account. After his death I went into the bank and tried to close the account. I had his death certificate, but I had no authority over the account, so it is still open three years later, with a 0 balance. It would be to the banks advantage to close it, but they have to follow procedures.
As stated We had a joined account as in both Mothers money and mine were in one account with both of our names. This had been decided long ago as if Mother needed to go into care Our combined account was there for that reason. Of course Mam was very healthy then but I guess We were being cautious and careful. Mother became a Widow at 57 years therefore Mam retired early and handed the Family farm to the oldest Son. All of Mam's affairs were in order.
This was a joint account, and you are not being allowed to withdraw on it? That does seem odd. Have you asked to speak to someone higher up in the bank than the clerk, to get a more thorough explanation? I doubt that anyone here can tell you why the account is frozen.
And I'm so sorry about your mother's death. It is especially hard to handle these practical matters while you are in the immediate pain of bereavement. My condolences.
Johnjoe, are you in the US? I think not. Tell us where you live.
Thank you for the clarification.

If the account is in both of your names, and both are joint owners (both your mothers and your social security numbers associated with the account) then you should have access to the account.

The only reason I can see that the account would be frozen is that the IRS sees evidence of either failure to pay past taxes or fraud. Had you and your mother filed your taxes every year and/or do you owe for past taxes? As a priority collector, the IRS can freeze all assets until they believe that their claims are settled. Are you aware of any open debts to the IRS?...they are the ones that got Capone after all, they won't play around with past debt. If I were in your place I would go, personally, to the nearest IRS office and demand to see a supervisor or someone in charge to see exactly what the claim is that the IRS has. You may be surprised by what information they have...perhaps an old inheritance that taxes were never paid on, property taxes, income tax...who knows? It's best to go right to them to find out exactly what the status is.

Angel
I have a feeling we're talking about Inland Revenue in Britain or Ireland? It's a different banking system.
Angelkw, good grief, the IRS does not run around chasing down deceased people's bank accounts as soon as they die. Are you talking about the IRS collecting local property taxes? No, not happening. The IRS also sends a written notice ahead of collection action to try and resolve issues without taking enforcement action. And if the bank account is levied the taxpayer gets a letter about that too. Nope, VERY UNLIKELY, that this is the work of the IRS. And by the way, don't go charging into government offices demanding to see supervisors when you don't even know what you're talking about. That's a waste of time and a good way to get escorted out by armed security. I am a retired IRS Revenue Officer. There is another explanation to this poster's issues.
Johnjoe, come back and talk to us. We have folks from outside the US who can chime in.

Did you ask to speak to an officer of the bank?

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