Bank of America can’t get out of its own way. The bank giant struggles to deal with negative publicity just got some more.
A disturbing report has surfaced by the Los Angeles Times that Bank Of America has charged fees to an account after the user had passed. Rocco Bersane died of a heart attack at age 56 in March. The bank has continued to charge the $12 monthly account maintenance fee.
Surprisingly enough, this is not illegal. Under California law, bank accounts with less than $150,000 can be claimed by a deceased person’s heirs after 40 days. Also, funds in inactive bank accounts must be handed over to the state after three years.
Times reporter David Lazarus spoke to Bersane’s son, Rocco, Jr. He said that the bank made the process of getting his fathers’ money back sound complicated. Bank of America spokesperson Betty Riess said that Bank of America typically gives a family six months to get the deceased persons’ affairs in order. When asked about what went wrong here, she simply said it was “a mess-up on our part.”
A spokeswoman from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau told MSN that there are no federal laws that regulate these matters. She also said that this was usually something handled at the state level. Lawyers disagree with the morality of the issue. “Is it wrong morally? Yes. Legally, no.The law says they can get away with it,” says probate attorney Marlene Seltzer.
Bersane’s family and friends were outraged. “The man is dead,” Patricia Bruge, who lived with Bersane nearly two decades. “How do you keep charging fees to a dead man?” His son was equally upset. “That’s just wrong. He’s no longer with us.” Riess went on to state that the fees will be returned to the account.
Should the state intervene on the family’s behalf? What kind of rule changes need to be put in place in order to keep this from happening again?