Can I bypass probate?

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Can I bypass probate?

My father passed away leaving a 300k life insurance policy without a beneficiary. I am the only heir and also on his bank account. Will the money go into his bank account and then be mine, avoiding probate or is that money held somewhere separate? He has accumulated substantial debt and the probate process is a strenuous one on its own, so I would like to avoid it if possible.

Asked on February 25, 2019 under Estate Planning, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

When no beneficiary is named to receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy, then they are payable to the deceased's estate. Accordingly, the funds will need to go into an estate account which will need to be established by the executor of the estate (if there is a Will) or by the personal representaive (if there is no Will). This will result in the need to go through probate. That is unless, the sum in question is small enough that a small estate probate or similar simplified process is avaialbele. You can google the name of your estate to find out its small estate eligiblity requirments and procedures.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, if no beneficiary was listed for the beneficiary, his "estate" is the beneficiary. The money will not go into his personal bank account but will have to go into an estate account which will have to be opened by the executor or personal representative (which will presumably be you, unless a different person was named executor in a will) for that purpose. Since it will be an estate asset in an estate account, you will have to go through probate.


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