beneficiary vs heir

My cousin died recently but he left no Will or Trust. However, he added me as beneficiary on all bank accounts. His sister, who he has not seen or talked to in 10 years, thinks because she is his only heir should get all of his money. The credit union already released funds to me. He has no property and gave away car and contents of his rental house before he died. According to all the banks, the beneficiary is entitled to the money and not the sister? Is this correct? Should his estate still go through probate if there is no property left? His sister threatens to file for probate. I live in CA but when up to OR, where he lived, to plan funeral and close up his home. I could not find an answer to these questions on the internet.

Asked on October 2, 2017 under Estate Planning, Alaska


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Some assets pass outside of the estate of a deceased person. This means that they are not subject to probate, so they do not pass to the beneficiaries (or heirs) of the estate. Rather, they pass to the beneficiaries of the account. And a bank account that has a person listed to inherit in the event of the bank account holder's death is such an asset. Bottom line, the money is yours, not your cousin's sister's.

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