If my sister died without a Will and had only 1 asset, a bank account with a small amount of money in it, can we access the account?

Asked on February 18, 2016 under Estate Planning, Indiana


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the account was in her name only, then you cannot simply access the account. If an IN resident dies with an estate worth less than a certain dollar amount, you don't have to go through a formal probate court proceeding. It doesn't matter whether or not the deceased left a Will. What matters is the value of their estate. If their assets value are under the "small estates" limit, you can use a simplified probate procedure, called a "summary probate" or 'summary adminstration" or the like. So instead of having a  court hearing, you may only need to file a simple form and wait for a certain amount of time before distributing the assets, including the bank account.
Requirements for using the small estate procedure is that: the value of the gross estate must be $50,000 or less; the person must have died at least 45 days ago; no petition for an appointment of representative must have been filed or granted by the court; and the person asking for the property must be entitled to it.
At this point, you should contact the appropriate probate court for further information.

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