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Widow denied access to deceased husband's savings

6:27 PM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Married 53 years, it is hard for Julia Bolena to forget her husband and what he brought to their marriage.

Sixteen months ago, her husband died of cancer and Bolena said she has been trying to close a chapter with the bank ever since.

"I just know there's some way they can resolve it if they want," she said.

Her husband had two accounts, a checking and a small savings. The bank gave her access to the checking, but when it came to the savings, access denied.

"He failed to put that particular account in trust to me," said Bolena, "I am sure it was an oversight, being the other account was in trust to me. I'm sure he assumed they all went together."

Her name was on the checking, but not on the savings. It's only $273, but Bolena said it is money she can use.

"I'm on a very fixed income and that will pay a couple of light bills. It is not much money," she said. 

She feels she has demonstrated to the bank that she is the rightful heir.

"I called probate court and they laugh they said they know that anything over $500 is up to the bank's discretion," said Bolena, "They said they could give me a letter but it will cost $250."

Bolena said adding to her frustration, the bank continues to deduct $5 a month from her deceased husband's savings.

"They won't give it to me, but yet they'll take a service charge," said Bolena, "They won't let me close out the account but they'll take the service charge every month."

Is the bank wrong? Is she entitled to her husband's savings?

"I think it is very unfair," she said.

Kathy Harrison, Wells Fargo spokesperson said by email.

"The issue is she was not joint on the account, as she was on the checking; nor was the account set up as a 'payable on death' account which means she does not have ownership rights."

So is there a way for her to get access to her husband's savings?

Harrison said Bolena needs  a "power or attorney" or "executor" papers that give her authority over the accounts.

"If she provides either one, the bank will release the funds as well as any fees incurred," writes Harrison. 

I you can help Bolena, pro bono, contact Ken Amaro at kamaro@firstcoastnews.com.

First Coast News

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