If my father died without a will and has a substantial amount of money in the bank, how do I gain access to the money? 37 Answers as of May 30, 2013

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
In Maryland, if the bank account is a probate asset (no designated beneficiary(s)), then someone appointed as personal representative of the estate may have the authority to access the account funds.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 5/29/2013
Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
If there is no real property (house) and the estate is less than $100,000, then you can access the bank account by affidavit. Otherwise, you will need to probate the estate.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 5/30/2013
Law Office of Shawn C. Newman, P.A.
Law Office of Shawn C. Newman, P.A. | Shawn C. Newman, Esq.
Your father may have left the account titled as "Pay on Death" or "In Trust for", which would mean you could present an original death certificate and the bank would pass the money to the beneficiary named on file directly. However, if there are no beneficiaries named, you would have to initiate a probate administration (and depending upon the amount it may be a formal or summary administration) and the passing of the money would be controlled by the probate process. You really need to speak to an attorney and get advice on your particular situation, as there is more than just "getting the money" that you need to think about. If you apply for the money through a summary administration and there are creditors - you will become responsible for payment of your father's bills. I hope that this general information will be of some help to you, but it is not a substitute for true legal advice.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 5/30/2013
James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
Open a probate and have yourself appointed the personal representative.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 5/30/2013
Wright Law Firm, LC | Philip Wright
If the account is in his name alone, you will have to file probate.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 5/30/2013
    Slovak Baron & Empey, LLP | Valerie A. Powers Smith, Esq.
    When one dies without a Will, the laws of intestacy govern. In absence of being the designated beneficiary of an account, one must obtain court appointment as the Administrator of the Estate in be granted authority to access funds in an account belonging to the decedent. A petition must be filed with the probate county in the county of the decedent's residence.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Seek the assistance of a probate lawyer. Depending on the size of the estate, the probate proceeding may be a short abbreviated process or a longer regular process, and if there are any her heirs other than yourself, or creditors who have claims against the estate such as last medical bills, etc.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Ben T. Liu Law Office
    Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
    You will need to probate his estate unless the account has beneficiaries upon death.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    You must file an action in probate court. Hire an attorney and follow his/her directions.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Michael B. McFarland, P.A. | Michael B. McFarland
    You, or someone in your family, needs to file a petition for appointment as personal representative of his estate - probably in informal proceedings. It's probably best to contact an attorney with experience in probate matters to explain and guide you through the process.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    You have to open a probate estate, notify all of the creditors and your brothers and sisters that the estate is open. Then you gather up his assets, hold them for a period of 4 months after the first notice to creditors is published, then pay the creditors. After that, you figure out the distribution to the heirs and split up whatever is left. You may want to consult with an attorney to make sure it is done properly.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    If the money was in your father's name only, it can only be accessed by the personal representative (executor) of his estate. You can petition the court, in the county and state of his residence, for a determination of intestacy and appointment of a personal representative. The court will schedule a hearing on the petition. If no one objects, you will be appointed as personal representative. In that capacity you must act on behalf of the estate to pay legitimate bills, costs of administration and any taxes due. The court will then order the distribution of the remaining estate to the heirs.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    You will need to petition the court to name someone as executor/personal representative of your father's estate. That person can access the money in the bank and, after paying off all of your father's debts, taxes, and any other outstanding espenses, will distribute the remainder to your father's heirs as determined by the laws of the state he resided in at the time of his death.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    If you are the sole heir of your father, you need to determine the total amount in the account. Assets totaling over $150,000.00 will require that you initiate probate proceedings to collect the funds. If the total is less than $150,000.00 the bank will indicate what is required to obtain the funds. If you are not the only heir, you will need to contact each any every one to proceed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    First, check with the bank to see if anyone is named as a "payable on death" beneficiary of his accounts. If not, then you need to begin the administration of his estate with a petition to the Circuit Court. Do yourself a favor, hire a probate attorney to help with this process.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    It depends upon who are the heirs besides you and what you mean by "substantial". Estates that are worth less than $150,000 can be distributed without a formal probate. All others without an estate plan must go through a court administered probate. You should consult? a probate attorney to review all of the facts and advise you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    You will have to file probate if over 150k. If less there are summary proceedings. Contact a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    It depends. Are you an heir? Was your father married at the time of his death? How much money are we talking about? How was the account held? Are there any beneficiaries listed on the account? If the account was in your father's name alone, some form of probate is likely needed. You should consult a probate attorney to determine how to proceed, based on the answers to these questions.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
    I would file a petition a open a probate estate. If you have any questions, please contact me.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    If your father's total estate (not just at this bank) is more than $150,000, then you hire a lawyer and file a petition for probate. If less, and you are entitled to the money, then you take a 13150 affidavit and the death certificate to the bank. Most banks have the appropriate form. It must be at least 40 days after his death.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Dennis E. Valentine Law Firm
    Dennis E. Valentine Law Firm | Dennis Valentine
    There are a number of questions that would come to mind before a simple answer could be given. First, you need to find out how the money is titled in the bank. Is it a joint account? Did your father leave the bank with instructions about distribution of that money when he died? These are called payable on death instructions. Second, you need to check the statute covering distribution when there is no will. That statute would determine whether you are entitled to all, some, or none of the estate. Third, depending upon the amount of the money in the bank and other assets, you may be able to use an affidavit if the estate has no real estate and is under $63,000. I hope this gives you some starting information and wish you well.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Robert E. Giffin | Robert E. Giffin CPA
    Hire an attorney to open a probate estate and have you appointed administrator.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    If the amount is over $150,000, you will need to file a probate petition, be named the administrator of the estate, obtain Letters. Then open a trust account, have the money rolled over. You will need to have the estate appraised, then file a petition to distribute the estate to the rightful heirs. The process can take up to 18 months. If the amount is less than $150,000, you can file a small estate probate. You can then have the money transferred to a trust account and disburse to the rightful heirs. If you would like to discuss further, please feel free to contact me at the number listed below.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Neal M. Rimer, Esquire
    Neal M. Rimer, Esquire | Neal M. Rimer
    Hire an attorney and open a probate proceeding. You would become the administrator of the estate and be authorized by the court to open a bank account; round up the assets; render an accounting; and then distribute the assets to the proper beneficiaries. As an administrator, you are paid a statutory fee for your work, which is the same calculated amount as the attorney will be paid.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Shimberg and Crohn, P.C. | Jonathan Shimberg
    Depending on the amount of his estate and whether there are other heirs governs what you may do. If there is a widow she is entitled to one-half of the estate and the children are entitled to share the other half equally. If there is no widow, then the children divide the estate equally per stripes. By that, it means if you had a sibling who predeceased your dad but has kids, then they step into heir dad's shoes for the purposes of inheritance. If the estate totals more than $100,000, then a probate estate must be opened in order to access the money. If less than $100,000 then a small estate affidavit can be prepared and presented to the bank in order to access the monies.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Office of Stuart A. McKenzie
    Law Office of Stuart A. McKenzie | Stuart McKenzie
    Does substantial mean more than $150,000.00? If it is less than $150,000.00 you may use Probate Code Section 13100 to obtain the assets (otherwise known as a small estate affidavit). If it is more than $150,000.00 and in your fathers name alone you will probably need to initiate a probate proceeding.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    You would have to open his succession and have you (and any other legal heirs) placed into possession of the bank accounts.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Offices of Terrell Monks
    Law Offices of Terrell Monks | Terrell Monks
    If your father is/was an Oklahoma resident, you would need to Petition the Probate Court to administer the estate and grant someone authority to gather the assets, pay the debts/expenses, and distribute the balance according to the law of Oklahoma.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Offices of Maxwell Charles Livingston
    Law Offices of Maxwell Charles Livingston | Maxwell C Livingston
    You would have to file intestate in probate to get access to his funds. If you would like to discuss further, I welcome you to call.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Charles E. Dorwart, P.C., L.L.O.
    Charles E. Dorwart, P.C., L.L.O. | Charles E. Dorwart
    You or some member of your family will have to apply to the court to be appointed as the personal representative of your father's estate unless you are a named beneficiary of the bank accounts.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    See an estate attorney and file an intestate estate with the probate court.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Mains Law Office
    Mains Law Office | Julie Mains
    It depends on the amount of his estate. If you die without a will in California, your estate passes by intestate succession. If there is a spouse, there are rules for what is distributed to the spouse, the children etc. If the estate is valued at more than $150,000.00, you will need to open probate. If it is less, you need to wait 40 days and then file a small estate affidavit with the institution to gain access. You probably should speak with an attorney, such as myself, who practices in this area.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    The only way you can is to open your father's probate estate and administer the estate.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Offices of Robert H. Glorch | Jeffrey R. Gottlieb
    Contact a probate attorney (in the county where your father lived) and ask about petitioning the court to open a probate estate.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP | Kathleen DeLacy
    If you have priority to open the Estate, or whoever does, needs to open the Estate.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You open an estate and seek to be his personal representative, see an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    If the account has a beneficiary or a joint tenant that is who is entitled to gain access to the account and close it out. That might be you, it might not be you, or there may be no one named. If there is no joint tenant and no beneficiary named, than a probate proceeding is necessary. I suggest that you meet with an estate/probate attorney to address the specifics and options that may be available to you. Best of luck. This information is only intended to give general information in response to an inquiry. It does not establish an attorney client relationship. This response is only based upon the limited facts presented and is merely intended to assist you in determining if you should contact an attorney to provide you with legal advice.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 5/29/2013
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 7 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney