My mother-in-law has died; husband is executor; only estate is her checking account. All children are listed as signers on the account. Can husband just write each sibling a check for their share? Do we really need to go through an attorney?
3 Answers from Attorneys
Your issue is going through an attorney. An attorney's issue is making sure that the transactions are done correctly.
If you want a cake do you really have to go through a baker if you want a cake to serve to guests. Obviously if you have learned how to bake you don't need a baker. Does your husband understand all the rules of an estate?
Sorry to hear about the loss of your mother-in-law. If the children are all listed as signatories on the account, they can each withdraw their own share. For this part you do not need to use an attorney.
However, be advised that Pennsylvania has a 4.5% inheritance tax. This is where an experienced attorney can help, because not all the account should be taxable and there may be enough estate deductions to minimize or elimilimate the tax. Additionally, I'll bet your mother-in-law has other assets that need to be dealt with (and may also cause a tax).
Hope that helps.
Kevin A. Pollock, J.D., LL.M.
P: (609) 818-1555
Licensed to practice law in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
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The other attorneys give good advice. It is disappointing though that your husband is the executor and you are the one asking questions. At the very least he is the one who should be consulting with a probate attorney. I find it difficult to believe that the ONLY estate asset for the mother-in-law was a checking account unless she was very elderly, only received Social Security, had no car or home and lived in an apartment, or nursing home or one of her children.
There are all kinds of issues which could come up and a probate attorney will need to review everything to know whether an estate needs probated or not. So before your husband starts issuing checks (which he does not need to do) I suggest that he at least consult with a probate attorney who practices in the county/state in which the mother-in-law resided at the time of her death.
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