If my husband recently passed after a long health crisis but left virtually no estate, what do I do now?

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If my husband recently passed after a long health crisis but left virtually no estate, what do I do now?

He was disabled and banked less than a $1000 a month from which I took care of all his bills I could (with medical bills that didn’t go far). I am now waiting for the treasury to remove his last – if not 2 – months of his disability payments which will leave me a grand total of under $100 in my husband’s entire estate. He had no life insurance, no vehicles, no home, no settlements, no IRAs – nothing but his family and the clothing he owned. What do I do now? I cannot afford an estate/probate attorney. Our children are adults and I am 52 so I will not be collecting any Social Security from his death but the one lump sum pay out of $255.85.

Asked on December 11, 2015 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no requirement that an estate be probated.  This is an extremely small estate.  If your name was on the account that had $100 on it, then you would be entitled to the funds under the "right to survivorship".  If your name was not on the account, then you can get access to it with "affidavits of heirship" by yourself or any surviving children. 
You do need to let any potential creditors know that he is deceased.  You do this with a simple letter and enclose a copy of the death certificate.  The death certificate does not have to be certified... just a copy that puts them on notice that he is deceased. 
You also need to file a final income tax.  This puts the IRS on notice that he is deceased.  You can combine this as you normally would with your taxes.  Just include a notice that this is final tax return because he is deceased and include a copy of the death certificate.
So basically, just a bit of paperwork to tie up a few loose ends.  You don't need the expense or headache of a probate.  If a creditor thinks there is an estate, then they should be out the expense and effort to file the probate, not you.


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