We get a lot of questions about how accounts get frozen when somebody passes away. Let's talk first about bank accounts, checking accounts, and savings accounts. Typically mom and dad have a joint account and if one of them passes away the other one can still access those accounts. Now if both of them pass away, typically those accounts do get frozen. Now let's go to what some of the brokerage firms do. Mom and dad may have an account at a brokerage firm. In fact, we were dealing with a succession last week where dad passed away and dad and mom had an investement account at a local Edward Jones' office. (and I'm not talking just about Edward Jones because virtually all of the investment firms do it the same way) but that account is frozen even though just dad died. It's an account in the name of dad and mom. So when that family came in, the first step in the succession is the petition to have mom confirmed as what's called the independent executor. So there's about 15 pages or so, the original will which will be filed at the courthouse, along with this petition. A judge will sign an order that the will is valid, and the judge will sign an order confirming that mom is the executor of dad's estate persuant to dad's will. Then we can take the court order back to Edward Jones. Mom will have in her hands what's called letters of independent executorship. Then mom will be able to open up an estate account and move those assets from the frozen joint account into the estate account which mom can control ultimately for disposition to the heirs. So be aware if there's a joint account at a brokerage firm and one of those account holder's dies, it's likely that that accounts going to be frozen. You've got to get the succession started right away so that the family can get access to those funds. If you have succession questions give us a call statewide. We handle successions in all 64 parishes. Call us at 866-491-3884.