My Mother recently passed away leaving a will naming myself & my sister exeutrex she had a small amount of money plus her personal items which weren't many because she lived in a senior citizen highrise apt. Do we need to do anything special with the will or just take care of her bills and abide by her wishes?
3 Answers from Attorneys
Please accept my condolences on your loss. Your question is hard to answer without knowing more specifics as to values of her account and bills, but you may need to probate the will so you and your sister become appointed as co-executrices. This would give you the authority to handle the affairs of your mother's estate, such as closing her bank account, paying an inheritance taxes that may be due and complying with other requirements of probate.
Alternatively, you may be able to settle the estate using a less formal and quicker method, provided the estate qualifies. I would strongly suggest that you meet with an attorney who practices in this area to determine the best avenue for you. My office offers a free consultation for this very purpose. Please feel free to call or email to arrange this free meeting.
I agree with Attorney Fleming. You may need to probate an estate and go through full blown probate. Or you may be able to use the small estates procedures or you may not even need probate.
You and your sister should consult a local probate attorney who practices in the county/state where your mother lived at the time of her death if you can afford to do so. The attorney can review the will and estate assets and potential debts if any and advise. Failing that, then you should speak with the register of wills at the Orphans' Court (assuming your mother lived in PA). While the register may not give legal advice, they may be able to help you figure out whether the small estates procedure can be utilized.
Unless your or your sister's name was on a bank account then you will need a short certificate from the court in order to access the funds and deposit them in the estate account.
I also agree with Attorney Fleming and Attorney Hunter, in that you may or may not need to do anything with the Will.
Just as an added note, if her bank account is less than $3,500, the bank can release the funds without probate, if you present them with a death certificate and proof that the funeral bill has been paid.
I would be more than happy to discuss the details of your individual situation so that you can decide on the cheapest, quickest and easiest way to handle wrapping up your mother's affairs.
Please do not hesitate to contact me. I give free consultations as well, and can be reached at 412.327.7335 or [email protected]