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?

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 8 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).


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