husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

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woolie
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husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by woolie »

A friend's husband (I will call him Joe) passed suddenly, with no will. He is survived by his wife (I will call her Jane) and young-adult son.
She is completely bewildered about what to do - they were in their fifties and not expecting to deal with this. Jane has asked me for help. I'm no expert but I know a lot more about money and taxes than she does and I want to help her if I can.

Based on their simple balance sheet and small family I don't think she needs to go through the trouble and expense of probate court. Would appreciate any thoughts, especially if I'm missing something. Their state of residence is PA.

Assets:
bank savings accounts in both Joe and Jane's names, Jane has already had this changed to an account in her name only
a house, deed is in both their names
a leased vehicle, in Joe's name. The lessor has already told her she can break the lease and return the car without penalty, just with a death certificate
another vehicle with a loan on it, in Joe's name
a few 401(k) and 457(b) plans in Joe's name, from different employers, with Jane listed as beneficiary

Liabilities:
mortgage on the house (not sure whose names are on this)
lease on one vehicle (in Joe's name)
loan on one vehicle (in Joe's name)

It seems to me she should be able to dispose of everything just with the death certificate, since she is joint owner or beneficiary on just about everything. The only thing I'm not sure about is the non-leased vehicle. She wants to keep it, it has been her daily driver. I would think she can either refinance it in her name or pay it off and when it comes time to sell or trade it I would think can she put his name and DECEASED on the back of the title and then sign her name under it and nobody will demand to see a court order over a used car. And when selling the house, if she provides a death certificate at closing that should be all that's needed since her name is also on the deed.

Taxes:
They have been MFJ for years. From what I gleaned from IRS pub 559, I think she just needs to file an MFJ return like they've been doing one last time next year. I will recommend she use an accountant to prepare the return, to handle any pro-rating or other adjustments needed. But I see no reason to set up an EID for the estate and file a return for it.

PA has a self-service affidavit that can be used on estates with value less than $50k and not including real estate. I honestly don't know if the estate is worth more than $50k or not (I sure hope it is) but it definitely includes real estate so this form doesn't apply to Jane's situation.

Bottom line - because Jane is already either a co-owner or named beneficiary of all Joe's assets, there's no need for her to go to probate court and get herself legally named as personal representative of the estate. It seems like she can handle everything just with a Death Certificate.

Am I missing something?
tibbitts
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by tibbitts »

I am not an expert, but in my case (and in my locale) a simplified probate process applied and no court was required, only filing a form. My guess is that the answer to your question may be location-dependent. I consulted an attorney; the cost was not excessive, so given the other things this person is dealing with, that might be the simplest approach to help make sure nothing gets missed.
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galawdawg
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by galawdawg »

If everything is either titled as joint tenants with right of survivorship, tenants by the eintirety or if Jane is the beneficiary on any accounts in which she is not a joint owner, then probate may not be necessary. If any property is titled as joint tenants in common, probate and an attorney may be necessary. Here is the information on transfer of vehicle titles in PA following the death of an owner: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/public/dvspu ... htrans.pdf

However, even if everything is jointly owned in such a manner that it all passes to Jane without the need for probate, I would still recommend that Jane consult with an attorney. As to the real estate in particular, changes of title need to be handled timely and correctly to avoid issues in the future if she sells the property or passes away and her heir(s) are left cleaning up any title problems. An attorney would be the best resource to ensure everything is handled properly.
theresearcher
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by theresearcher »

Life Insurance. There is a possibility that life insurance was provided as part of an employer benefit package. Also assuming he was employed- ensure that all payments for accrued salary/wage, (unused) vacation, etc. are received.

All titled property that is being retained (real estate, automobile, etc.) should be re-registered under the sole owner name. The non-leased vehicle might need a probate grant.

Details of auto insurance, home insurance and utilities may need to be updated. In particular- verify that insurance still extends to cars titled in the deceased husband's name before driving these vehicles.

What were the arrangements for health insurance. These may need updating depending on whose name existing coverage was in. There may be short time limits (30 days or less) to elect alternative coverage options.

Consider Social Security benefit options, including one-time death benefit. https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/ifyou.html

The advice to consult a probate attorney in PA is sound. Indication of intestate succession in PA: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia ... vania.html

Taxes- consult with a CPA but MFJ appears an option for this year. For a period afterwards, qualifying widow a possibility depending on if the young-adult child is dependent under the tax rules. Subsequently, head of household may still be an option if the child remains dependent.
suemarkp
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by suemarkp »

Here in WA, I only had to do probate for the house to get my deceased wife's name off of it. This required a notice to creditors publication and about 3 months. Was easy, but I needed a lawyer because I had no clue. Even if you do there are other things for the surviving spouse to handle while the lawyer does the probate.
Mark | Kent, WA
Katietsu
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Katietsu »

I agree that I see no need for probate.

I have transferred a vehicle in PA using the death certificate with no probate.
tibbitts
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by tibbitts »

Katietsu wrote: Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:37 pm I agree that I see no need for probate.

I have transferred a vehicle in PA using the death certificate with no probate.
If the vehicle was titled as transfer on death that would probably work, although I don't think all states allow that. In my case there was no transfer-on-death title so I had to provide a copy of the will, and the DMV copied the entire document. And of course a copy of the death certificate. Lacking a will it would have been more complicated.
CRTR
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by CRTR »

theresearcher wrote: Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:04 pm Life Insurance. There is a possibility that life insurance was provided as part of an employer benefit package. Also assuming he was employed- ensure that all payments for accrued salary/wage, (unused) vacation, etc. are received.

All titled property that is being retained (real estate, automobile, etc.) should be re-registered under the sole owner name. The non-leased vehicle might need a probate grant.

Details of auto insurance, home insurance and utilities may need to be updated. In particular- verify that insurance still extends to cars titled in the deceased husband's name before driving these vehicles.

What were the arrangements for health insurance. These may need updating depending on whose name existing coverage was in. There may be short time limits (30 days or less) to elect alternative coverage options.

Consider Social Security benefit options, including one-time death benefit. https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/ifyou.html

The advice to consult a probate attorney in PA is sound. Indication of intestate succession in PA: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia ... vania.html

Taxes- consult with a CPA but MFJ appears an option for this year. For a period afterwards, qualifying widow a possibility depending on if the young-adult child is dependent under the tax rules. Subsequently, head of household may still be an option if the child remains dependent.
+1
This is great.

Apropos to using a probate attorney, while perhaps not needed to complete the process (the estate seems pretty simple) may be money well spent due to the peace of mind it provides. I was able to complete the onerous, multi-step California probate of my father's estate using a "how to" book from Nolo. It was a process (understatement, ~40 hours of my time) but the probate attorney fee estimates we received were >$20,000 (due to real estate value). Even though everything went well, I had a persistent concern/discomfort that I was doing something wrong . . . .but saving Mom over $20k made it worth taking a stab.
Katietsu
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Katietsu »

tibbitts wrote: Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:48 pm
Katietsu wrote: Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:37 pm I agree that I see no need for probate.

I have transferred a vehicle in PA using the death certificate with no probate.
If the vehicle was titled as transfer on death that would probably work, although I don't think all states allow that. In my case there was no transfer-on-death title so I had to provide a copy of the will, and the DMV copied the entire document. And of course a copy of the death certificate. Lacking a will it would have been more complicated.
I understand that this would be true in some states. But PA has a process to transfer a vehicle title with no will or probate involved. It is really easy when the transfer is to a spouse and the informant on the death certificate. The whole process took less than 10 minutes. Go to a any quality transfer title agency and they can help you. One of the other posts continues a link with the details if you want to review them. (There is no transfer on death title in PA as far as I know.)
Katietsu
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Katietsu »

There is a good chance that the federal return will be just like their return in any other year, other than the designation that the husband is deceased. The PA state return can be a bit odd. It used to be that the surviving spouse would need to file a separate return as single and the return for the husband would be marked for a deceased person. The two separate returns can still be necessary. But, if you meet all the requirements, a married filing joint state return is now allowed to be filed by the surviving spouse.

For 2021-2022, if the child is living with Mom and is her dependent, the best filing status is Qualifying widow. It is OK that the child is an adult. Many tax preparers are not aware that an adult child can help a parent be eligible for the qualifying widow filing status. So, the surviving spouse may need to make this point themselves. The specifics are more nuanced than I have outlined in this paragraph. So, one should reference the detailed information in order to determine whether this is an appropriate filing status for them.
bsteiner
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by bsteiner »

woolie wrote: Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:18 pm ...
Based on their simple balance sheet and small family I don't think she needs to go through the trouble and expense of probate court. Would appreciate any thoughts, especially if I'm missing something. Their state of residence is PA.
...
If, as several people have suggested, the car falls within either the small estate procedure or the exemption for a car, there aren't any probate assets.

However, even if there were, unlike some states, probating a Will (or the equivalent for an intestate estate) isn't much trouble or expense in Pennsylvania.
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cheese_breath
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by cheese_breath »

Find a probate lawyer who will give her a free one hour consult, and go with her to help her understand the advice.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
tibbitts
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by tibbitts »

cheese_breath wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:00 am Find a probate lawyer who will give her a free one hour consult, and go with her to help her understand the advice.
I'm not sure the free one hour thing is not as common in the probate arena, but maybe attorneys can comment on that. In any case I would expect the advice to be naturally more along the lines of information gathering on the part of the attorney (for example what size estate is involved) and "here are some issues I can help you with", rather than necessarily actionable advice.
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cheese_breath
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by cheese_breath »

tibbitts wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:22 am
cheese_breath wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:00 am Find a probate lawyer who will give her a free one hour consult, and go with her to help her understand the advice.
I'm not sure the free one hour thing is not as common in the probate arena, but maybe attorneys can comment on that. In any case I would expect the advice to be naturally more along the lines of information gathering on the part of the attorney (for example what size estate is involved) and "here are some issues I can help you with", rather than necessarily actionable advice.
Actually, I did get a free consult from a probate lawyer. But I had already gathered the information first, and I think OP can help her friend do that. With a few questions to verify the information I provided was complete, the lawyer was able to advise me in less than an hour that probate wasn't necessary for MIL's small estate.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by bsteiner »

tibbitts wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:22 am
cheese_breath wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:00 am Find a probate lawyer who will give her a free one hour consult, and go with her to help her understand the advice.
I'm not sure the free one hour thing is not as common in the probate arena, but maybe attorneys can comment on that. In any case I would expect the advice to be naturally more along the lines of information gathering on the part of the attorney (for example what size estate is involved) and "here are some issues I can help you with", rather than necessarily actionable advice.
Asking for free time would put you on the wrong foot. However, in a case like this, where the matter can be solved in a few minutes (someone in that state would know that the car falls within the small estate procedure or is exempt), there probably wouldn't be any charge.

However, the spouse needs a Will of her own, to provide for the son in trust, with the son gaining control at an appropriate age (or not at all if there's a reason for the son not to gain control at any point).
InMyDreams
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by InMyDreams »

woolie wrote: Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:18 pm Taxes:
They have been MFJ for years. From what I gleaned from IRS pub 559, I think she just needs to file an MFJ return like they've been doing one last time next year. I will recommend she use an accountant to prepare the return, to handle any pro-rating or other adjustments needed.
One problem often seen at TaxAide sites: the widow(er) comes in to file as Single for the year after the loss of the spouse, and hasn't realized that the standard deduction has been reduced by half with the change in filing status - and hasn't had the proper withholding for the tax year.

OP, you said the son was a "young adult" - does he qualify as a dependent?

This would apply to TY 2021 for your friend.
senex
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by senex »

woolie wrote: Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:18 pm PA has a self-service affidavit that can be used on estates with value less than $50k and not including real estate. I honestly don't know if the estate is worth more than $50k or not (I sure hope it is) but it definitely includes real estate so this form doesn't apply to Jane's situation.
Several others have addressed this point, and it is worth elaborating, because I found it very confusing until an attorney explained it to me.

The meaning of "estate" depends on context.
In the context of federal estate tax, the estate includes everything owned by the deceased.
In the context of state probate courts, the estate often means a much smaller set of items, sometimes called the "probate estate," which only includes items titled solely in the deceased's name, and with no beneficiary or transfer-on-death.

Say a person dies with a $100k joint bank account, a $300k IRA with beneficiary(who is still living), and a $10k car titled in his name alone. If the small estate probate limit is $50k, the estate qualifies, because only $10k of assets are in the "probate estate," i.e. the stuff that will be handled/disposed via the probate process.
mickroark
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by mickroark »

Sorry for his or her loss. After dealing with two estates in the last 5 years, they are very complicated and stressful even with a will. I feel sorry for anyone dealing with an estate without a will. I really am sorry. :(
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by bsteiner »

mickroark wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 12:39 pm Sorry for his or her loss. After dealing with two estates in the last 5 years, they are very complicated and stressful even with a will. I feel sorry for anyone dealing with an estate without a will. I really am sorry. :(
The process is almost the same. If someone dies without a Will, state law says who inherits. It's pretty much what you would expect, with some variations among the states, the principal one being the share passing to the spouse, depending on who else survives.
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Gill »

senex wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 11:47 am Say a person dies with a $100k joint bank account, a $300k IRA with beneficiary(who is still living), and a $10k car titled in his name alone. If the small estate probate limit is $50k, the estate qualifies, because only $10k of assets are in the "probate estate," i.e. the stuff that will be handled/disposed via the probate process.
In many if not all states, there would still be no probate estate because the car would be exempt property and able to be transferred with just a death certificate.
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woolie
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by woolie »

Thanks everyone for the comments, it's what I love about this community.
galawdawg - the link to the PA vehicle registry info was spot on, thanks especially for that.

I just got off the phone with Jane, and suggested that she do a consult with an attorney, especially with regards to the home and the mortgage. We want to be sure she'll be able to sell the house without a hassle.

Thanks again everyone!
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FIREchief
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by FIREchief »

Not specific to the OPs post, but perhaps relevant to others who have been following the thread. I think this is a situation where a living trust could have simplified the immediate challenges greatly.

Real estate: owned by trust
Non-retirement accounts: owned by trust
Qualified retirement accounts: named beneficiaries, likely surviving spouse
Automobiles: titled with trust as an "or" owner (in my state, each "or" owner can act autonomously to sell or retitle the vehicle)

That last one is the one that usually sparks the discussions. I've been told this makes things "complicated" and "difficult." As one (of the few?) who has actually done this, I can assure the readers that it is neither.

Were this the case, there would be no need to check with attorneys, courts, internet forums, etc. as to the way to proceed on anything. This is what I would like to leave for our heirs upon our ultimate demise.
Last edited by FIREchief on Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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water2357
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by water2357 »

PA has inheritance tax regardless of whether probate is required. Since Jane is the spouse, her tax will be 0% (other heirs have higher %s tax). Jane will most likely have to file an inheritance tax form at her county courthouse to certify that she owes no tax. May want to check on that.

Also, probably others have pointed out that if she is inheriting assets or property the portion of those assets or property that she is inheriting is revalued as of the date of death. So, whatever was entirely in her husband's name would be totally revalued for any eventual gain/loss on sale. And if they owned property/assets jointly the husbands half (her inheritance) would be revalued as of the date of death for eventual gain/loss on sale.
Kruser64
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Kruser64 »

I do have a will, but I think my non-joint and non-tod/pod assets total about $40. (That's how much cash I have in my wallet.) Won't be any probate in my case, that's for sure. :D
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Katietsu »

water2357 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:34 am PA has inheritance tax regardless of whether probate is required. Since Jane is the spouse, her tax will be 0% (other heirs have higher %s tax). Jane will most likely have to file an inheritance tax form at her county courthouse to certify that she owes no tax. May want to check on that.

Also, probably others have pointed out that if she is inheriting assets or property the portion of those assets or property that she is inheriting is revalued as of the date of death. So, whatever was entirely in her husband's name would be totally revalued for any eventual gain/loss on sale. And if they owned property/assets jointly the husbands half (her inheritance) would be revalued as of the date of death for eventual gain/loss on sale.
I have no idea what is strictly required with respect to inheritance tax. This is something you could ask an attorney about. However, I can say that I was told by an attorney that if probate is avoided, the spouse is the only person inheriting, and no federal estate tax form is filed then, in practice, an inheritance tax form might not be filed. To the best of my knowledge, none of my relatives with that set of conditions have completed an inheritance tax form. Getting together all the needed information is kind of a pain that I would avoid if I could.

The best approach may be to contact a lawyer for Jane to prepare her estate plan. And the lawyer can make sure there are not any oversight’s with respect to the husband.
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woolie
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by woolie »

A long overdue update. My friend Jane hired a lawyer and will indeed be going to probate court. It will hopefully be fairly simple since their finances are not complex and she is the spouse.

I'd like to share some lessons I've learned through helping her with this process about how to be prepared for the inevitable.

1. Make a will. Been said a million times, but I'll say it once more. Make a will.

2. Make sure your spouse and adult children know what assets you have and where they are. A simple list of bank and brokerage accounts, life insurance policy numbers, etc. kept in an office drawer could save weeks and months of stress and anxiety for your loved ones.

3. Make sure your spouse, children, or whoever are named as beneficiaries on your retirement accounts.

4. Make sure your spouse and adult children know how you manage your passwords. Including the one for your phone.

5. Have multiple bank accounts, both joint and individual. The bank is obliged to shut down accounts as soon as they know the holder is deceased. If all you have is one joint account, it can be a real pain in the arse just making sure the bills continue to be paid when the hub of your day-to-day finances is suddenly shut down.

6. Don't be in a rush to inform banks of the death. My friend informed their bank almost immediately, the account was frozen, and now she needs to establish an estate account just to be able to receive her husband's last paycheck. This is delaying her receipt of that money by months. Luckily she can get by in the meantime but not everyone is so fortunate.

7. Be strategic when leasing a vehicle or borrowing to buy a vehicle. If your family will not need the vehicle in the event of your death, then only put your name on the loan or lease. If there's only one name on the lease, then all you have to do is submit a copy of the Death Certificate and they have to take the vehicle back, even if you're upside-down on the value of the vehicle versus the remaining value on the lease or loan. On the other hand, if there's another name on the lease or loan the contract passes to that person. That's not necessarily bad - if it's a shared vehicle between you and your spouse, that could be exactly what you want. But you might want them to be able to return the vehicle and walk away from the contract. In fact, while we were trying to sort this out a very nice man at the dealership told me that he's had customers who are in poor health choose to lease because they know their survivors will be able to return the car without owing anything in the event they pass.
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Lee_WSP »

woolie wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:36 am
3. Make sure your spouse, children, or whoever are named as beneficiaries on your retirement accounts.
I'm going to have to add a caveat to this one as TOD has been the golden child of the internet estate planning crowd wisdom.

If your named beneficiaries are full blown responsible adults and you simply want the accounts to transfer to them without the hassle of probate, this is a good idea.

However, if you want to do any form of actual estate planning or parenting from beyond the grave, you should consult with your estate planning professional on the best way to transfer these assets.
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by ionball »

Thanks for sharing these valuable suggestions. #7 is a another helpful detail for planning that never crossed my mind.
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cheese_breath
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by cheese_breath »

woolie wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:36 am ... 5. Have multiple bank accounts, both joint and individual. The bank is obliged to shut down accounts as soon as they know the holder is deceased. If all you have is one joint account, it can be a real pain in the arse just making sure the bills continue to be paid when the hub of your day-to-day finances is suddenly shut down....
This one is a real surprise to me. I thought with joint accounts between spouses ownership immediately passed to the surviving spouse. I wonder if this is something particular to their bank. DW and her mother (MIL) had a joint checking account at Chase, and when MIL died not only did Chase not freeze the account; they also recommended keeping MIL's name on it so we could deposit any checks payable to her estate.
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by RetiredAL »

cheese_breath wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:31 pm
woolie wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:36 am ... 5. Have multiple bank accounts, both joint and individual. The bank is obliged to shut down accounts as soon as they know the holder is deceased. If all you have is one joint account, it can be a real pain in the arse just making sure the bills continue to be paid when the hub of your day-to-day finances is suddenly shut down....
This one is a real surprise to me. I thought with joint accounts between spouses ownership immediately passed to the surviving spouse. I wonder if this is something particular to their bank. DW and her mother (MIL) had a joint checking account at Chase, and when MIL died not only did Chase not freeze the account; they also recommended keeping MIL's name on it so we could deposit any checks payable to her estate.
My experience was similar to the cheesey one's. The bank accounts continued as before.

I was joint with Mom and Dad on their bank accounts. When my Mom passed, several weeks later Dad and I went to the bank to remove her name from the account. All it took was to show them the death certificate. I don't remember of any check depositing issues. State was CA.
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Mlm »

woolie wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:36 am

7. Be strategic when leasing a vehicle or borrowing to buy a vehicle. If your family will not need the vehicle in the event of your death, then only put your name on the loan or lease. If there's only one name on the lease, then all you have to do is submit a copy of the Death Certificate and they have to take the vehicle back, even if you're upside-down on the value of the vehicle versus the remaining value on the lease or loan. On the other hand, if there's another name on the lease or loan the contract passes to that person. That's not necessarily bad - if it's a shared vehicle between you and your spouse, that could be exactly what you want. But you might want them to be able to return the vehicle and walk away from the contract. In fact, while we were trying to sort this out a very nice man at the dealership told me that he's had customers who are in poor health choose to lease because they know their survivors will be able to return the car without owing anything in the event they pass.
In my experience this is not be true in all cases. You have to look closely at the "early termination" provisions of the lease. In many cases there can be significant expenses to the estate.
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cheese_breath
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by cheese_breath »

RetiredAL wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:57 pm
cheese_breath wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:31 pm
woolie wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:36 am ... 5. Have multiple bank accounts, both joint and individual. The bank is obliged to shut down accounts as soon as they know the holder is deceased. If all you have is one joint account, it can be a real pain in the arse just making sure the bills continue to be paid when the hub of your day-to-day finances is suddenly shut down....
This one is a real surprise to me. I thought with joint accounts between spouses ownership immediately passed to the surviving spouse. I wonder if this is something particular to their bank. DW and her mother (MIL) had a joint checking account at Chase, and when MIL died not only did Chase not freeze the account; they also recommended keeping MIL's name on it so we could deposit any checks payable to her estate.
My experience was similar to the cheesey one's. The bank accounts continued as before.

I was joint with Mom and Dad on their bank accounts. When my Mom passed, several weeks later Dad and I went to the bank to remove her name from the account. All it took was to show them the death certificate. I don't remember of any check depositing issues. State was CA.
I wonder if DW's friend's account was joint. If it was his with her as authorized signer and beneficiary would that have caused it to be frozen?
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Dottie57
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by Dottie57 »

cheese_breath wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:31 pm
woolie wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:36 am ... 5. Have multiple bank accounts, both joint and individual. The bank is obliged to shut down accounts as soon as they know the holder is deceased. If all you have is one joint account, it can be a real pain in the arse just making sure the bills continue to be paid when the hub of your day-to-day finances is suddenly shut down....
This one is a real surprise to me. I thought with joint accounts between spouses ownership immediately passed to the surviving spouse. I wonder if this is something particular to their bank. DW and her mother (MIL) had a joint checking account at Chase, and when MIL died not only did Chase not freeze the account; they also recommended keeping MIL's name on it so we could deposit any checks payable to her estate.
My joint account with my mom was not shut down when she died. It was simply renamed - my name only.
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1210sda
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Re: husband passed away, no will. Is probate court necessary?

Post by 1210sda »

RetiredAL wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:57 pm
cheese_breath wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:31 pm
woolie wrote: Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:36 am ... 5. Have multiple bank accounts, both joint and individual. The bank is obliged to shut down accounts as soon as they know the holder is deceased. If all you have is one joint account, it can be a real pain in the arse just making sure the bills continue to be paid when the hub of your day-to-day finances is suddenly shut down....
This one is a real surprise to me. I thought with joint accounts between spouses ownership immediately passed to the surviving spouse. I wonder if this is something particular to their bank. DW and her mother (MIL) had a joint checking account at Chase, and when MIL died not only did Chase not freeze the account; they also recommended keeping MIL's name on it so we could deposit any checks payable to her estate.
My experience was similar to the cheesey one's. The bank accounts continued as before.

I was joint with Mom and Dad on their bank accounts. When my Mom passed, several weeks later Dad and I went to the bank to remove her name from the account. All it took was to show them the death certificate. I don't remember of any check depositing issues. State was CA.
Thanks Cheese breath and Retired Al. This was my same question. Esp if an account is joint with right of survivorship.
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