What to do if my mother passed away with about $500 in her checking account, no designated beneficiary of her POD account and no Will?

UPDATED: Mar 30, 2013

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What to do if my mother passed away with about $500 in her checking account, no designated beneficiary of her POD account and no Will?

When I tried to close the account it was frozen and I was told by the bank officer to get a lawyer to assist in this matter. How should I proceed? Will it cost me $1,000 to get $500?

Asked on March 30, 2013 under Estate Planning, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, when someone dies without a Will they do not leave "beneficiaries" (beneficiaries are those persons/entities named in a Will). Instead, in such a case, a person is said to have died "intestate" and those who are to inherit are termed "heirs".

Secondly, under the circumstances, you will probably need to open a "small estate" probate (depending on the collective value of the accounts); you should not need an attorney for this). Such a probate is an expedited procedure for estates with certain assets under a limited dollar amount. As part of the process the bank account and undesignated POD account will be paid out to the lawful heirs of the estate (applicable "succession" laws will determine just who the heirs are).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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