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? - Estate Planning Law Questions and Answers- LawQA.com

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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?

Answer By Sean P. O'Keefe
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
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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

Answer By Thomas E. Gates

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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: 5/29/2013

Law Office of Shawn C. Newman, P.A.
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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: 5/29/2013

James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
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Open a probate and have yourself appointed the personal representative.

Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 5/29/2013

Answer By Philip Wright

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If the account is in his name alone, you will have to file probate.

Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 5/29/2013


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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

Answer By Victor Waid
Law Office Of Victor Waid
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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

Answer By Ben T. Liu
Ben T. Liu Law Office
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You will need to probate his estate unless the account has beneficiaries upon death.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/29/2013

Answer By Barry D. Broome
THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
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You must file an action in probate court. Hire an attorney and follow his/her directions.

Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 5/29/2013


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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

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