Is money left in the bank of a parent part of an estate?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is money left in the bank of a parent part of an estate?

My dad passed away a few weeks ago In his Will, he deemed his home and any money left in his personal bank account to my brother and I, to be split evenly and to be used to pay the necessary bills of the house. His insurance policy was only $11,375 but his funeral was $13,800, so I had to come out of pocket to pay the rest of the bill. I’m still waiting on the death certificate and I want to know if his bank account is part of his estate and will go into probate? Everyone is telling us that it isn’t part of his estate and that we should get the money out of the bank before they freeze it. It’s only $9,000. Is this legal to do or not?

Asked on August 24, 2016 under Estate Planning, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It's not part of the estate only if it was a joint account, with one or more peope who are still alive, in which case it belongs to the surviving joint account holders; or it was designated as pay on death or transfer on death, in which case it goes to whoever was designated to receive it. Otherwise, it is part of the estate and must go through probate. 

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