If my mother passed away about 14 months ago but left no Will?

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If my mother passed away about 14 months ago but left no Will?

She has roughly $7,000 in a bank account. She had 5 children including me. I had tried to obtain that money and was told that I would need to contact the other children to let them know about these funds in order to proceed. One child was not able to be located and the cost of hiring someone to find her, plus the cost of the lawyer, would most likely end up costing more than what was in the bank so I gave up. Now, the missing child has been located. Also, all children live in the US except me; I am in Australia. I would like to know if it is too late to try and obtain the funds in my mother’s bank account and what do I need to do to obtain it if it is not too late?

Asked on November 26, 2013 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your mother.

Since your mother did not leave a Will, the rules of intestate succession determine inheritance.  Intestate means dying without a Will.

Under the rules of intestate succession, if your mother had a surviving spouse, he would inherit her entire estate.  If there wasn't any surviving spouse, the estate would be divided equally among the five children.  If there are any deceased children who had children (your mother's grandchildren), they would receive the share their deceased parent would have received.

If there are just the five children, the estate (bank account) is divided equally among them.  It would be advisable to contact the bank to obtain the appropriate forms that you and your siblings will need to sign so that each of you can receive 1/5 of the sum in the bank account. 

If the bank has already turned the account over to the state's unclaimed property department, you will need to go online to obtain the account information under your mother's name and the appropriate documents from the unclaimed property department of your state.  State laws vary on when a bank is required to turn over an account to the state as unclaimed property.

If the account has been turned over to the state as unclaimed property, you and your siblings will need to submit the appropriate forms to the state.  When you submit your documentation to the state, you will receive your 1/5 of the bank account.

If you or your siblings receive any solicitations in the mail from companies offering to obtain the funds for you, don't get involved with that.  Those companies will charge 20% of the amount recovered and all they are doing is submitting the same paperwork for unclaimed property that you can submit yourself.


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