My friend passed away and doesnt have any next of kin. I was taking care of him and I was on his bank accounts. However, a week before he died he took me off. Can I go to the bank with a Small Estates Affidavit to claim his account? It is only $50,000.
4 Answers from Attorneys
Only if you want to go to jail. If there is no kin and no claimant, that money goes to the State of Illinois. If you think you are entitled to some portion because you were taking care of him/her, you need to open a probate estate on the 12th floor of the Daley Center and file a claim for your time and expenses. You can also ask the court to appoint you administrator of the Estate. Best you should consult with an attorney in your area regarding your legal rights and obligations.
If his only asset is the $50,000 account and there are no debts, a small estate affidavit might be possible, but unless he had a will, his estate passes to his heirs, not to you.
You might have a claim against his estate is you paid for his funeral or made loans to him or paid his expenses, and you might have a claim for your custodial care. But this would have to be pursued through a probate estate.
Did your friend have a will? If he did, that governs the disposition of his assets (except for those accounts and policies for which there is a named beneficiary). If there is a will, it must be filed with the clerk of the county in which the decedent resided on the date of his death. If he didn't write a will, his assets will go to his "heirs at law" and if none be found, to the State of Illinois, after paying for his funeral and burial expenses and other creditors. If there's enough money at issue, you may wish to consult with an attorney to seek a claim for your services as caregiver. Otherwise, move on. My condolences on the loss of your friend.
Your friend's estate would pass according to his will if he had one. Assuming he did not, it would pass to his heirs and the search for an heir is far-reaching. It would be rare that heirs cannot be found.
There are some possible claims that have been mentioned in earlier answers. What I would add, for consideration, is whether you have any understanding why the accounts were changed. Is there any argument that he no longer understood what he was doing or that someone else was involved who influenced him unduly? While these are arguments that are usually applied to last minute changes to a will or trust, I expect the arguments can be made if they apply in these circumstances.
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