What to do with my late brother’s last paycheck?

My brother passed away last month. He did not leave a Will or a Trust. His company issued his last paycheck out to “the estate of X”. How do we cash this check? He did name me as a beneficiary for his bank accounts, if that makes any difference. He did not own any real estate or anything.He did have a group life insurance plan benefit for $50,000 and a 401k account with $65,000 in it. Would we have to go to probate? My family doesn’t really have the money to go to court and we don’t really want to have to drag this for several years.

Asked on August 17, 2012 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Evern state has what is known as a small estate proceeding. It is an easier and abbreviated proceeding. I believe that in California you would qualify.  The bank accounts are not part of the estate if he had a "POD" on file naming you.  You go to the county in which he resided at the time of his death to apply for Letters Testamentary.  Once some one is appointed as the personal representative of the estate you open an estate account and the PR can sign and deposit the check. Good luck.


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