When a relative dies leaving cash in a bank account
Seniors, please, choose someone you trust and that you would want to manage your funds and other arrangements after you have passed on.

LOSING a loved one is never easy, and the process of grieving becomes that much harder when that family member dies intestate; meaning, they died without leaving a will.

In some instances, the person dies leaving behind cash assets in an active bank account which are needed for burial expenses.

"What this means is that there is no joint holder on the account," explained Ricardo Williams, head of branches at JN Bank. "This is something that happens quite often, and it places those who are left behind in a difficult situation as they will have to go through the legal process to gain access to the funds in the account in order to pay the funeral expenses."

Williams noted that in this situation persons are usually advised to contact the Administrator General's Department (AGD) as legally JN Bank can only take instructions from that office under these circumstances.

"What the AGD will do, once they have received the requisite documents and conducted their investigations, is to send instructions to the financial institution to pay over the burial expenses to the funeral home," he said.

Tasha Manley, general legal counsel at Jamaica National Group, further informed that once all the required documents are presented to JN Bank, the officer will ensure that the request is processed the same day.

She, however, was unable to provide a timeline in which the AGD would complete the request but noted that the government agency will require several documents, including a death certificate or burial order and an invoice from the funeral home.

Other documents to be submitted to the AGD include:

• Completed Form of Particulars, which can be accessed on the AGD website

• Letter from the financial institution detailing account balance and whether the account is held solely by the deceased

• Valid government-issued identification

• Processing fee (currently $1,500)

• Itemised bill from funeral home detailing cost of funeral for the deceased

Manley said that the AGD, if satisfied, will make a request to the bank to identify the account/s, disclose how much funds are in the account/s, and instruct the institution to pay out the required funds to the identified funeral home.

"When the individual comes to us at JN Bank we will require similar documents to those required by the AGD, including a death certificate or burial order, tax registration number (TRN), and valid identification."

She added that sometimes the bank will require additional information to ensure that the correct account is identified.

"As several individuals may have similar names, sometimes it's difficult to identify a particular record. As such, we ask that as much information as possible is provided on the deceased. This includes account number, date of birth, TRN, and address," Manley stated.

She noted that the bank will pay the amount indicated in the AGD's letter, which usually does not exceed $500,000. "This money is paid directly to the funeral home."

Williams, meanwhile, advised that one way to avoid this process, during what is already a very difficult time, is for persons to ensure that they have a joint holder on their bank accounts.

"Choose someone you trust and that you would want to manage your funds and other arrangements after you have passed on," he said.

MANLEY...the AGD, if satisfied, will make a request to the bank to identify the account/s, disclose how much funds are in the account/s and instruct the institution to pay out the required funds to the identified funeral home
WILLIAMS... it places those who are left behind in a difficult situation as they will have to go through the legal process to gain access to the funds in the account in order to pay the funeral expenses

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