When someone passes away, they may leave behind a bank account. If the account has a payable on death clause, sometimes called a POD, the balance of the money can immediately be transferred to that beneficiary. If the account is titled to them solely though, the probate process must be completed in order to access the funds. Depending on the total amount and type of assets, there are three primary methods, or types of probate.
First, disposition of personal property without administration is a simplified manner of seeking an Order from the Probate Court that the bank account be distributed in a certain way, typically to pay off the decedent’s funeral expenses and end-of-life medical care. Since these expenses are typically paid by family, it essentially just pays them back for advancing these payments. Disposition is only available when the unexempt assets of the deceased person’s estate do not exceed the amount of these expenses.
Second, a summary administration is a shortened form of probate that distributes the assets of the decedent through a single Order of the Probate Court. Summary Admin is available when the unexempt assets of the estate do not exceed $75,000.
Finally, a full Probate administration involves providing formal notice to creditors and family or other interested persons. This is typically an extended and costly procedure, depending on the number/amount of assets and number of possible descendants who may inherit. The goal of the probate process is to gather all of the decedent’s assets, pay off their debts, and distribute the remainder according to their Last Will and Testament.
Depending on the level of total assets, we may be able to gain access to the bank account through a simple Disposition order, or it may be required that we administer a summary or full probate case. Please contact me, so that I can review the specifics of your case and provide advice on how to proceed.