Bank Accounts Must Go Through Probate If There Is No Beneficiary Designated

HNWElder Law, Estate Administration and Probate

Many banks have strict policies regarding accounts that are subject to probate. They demand that the surrogate court provide “letters testamentary” before they’ll release a deceased person’s account to the executor/administrator. Many unknowing persons think that a death certificate and a Will alone be enough to gain access to the decedent’s account, especially if the Will says he or she receives all his/her assets. The bank will always say that is not sufficient.

If a person does not name a beneficiary to an account making it payable to a person on death, then it must go through probate. If the parent had designated a beneficiary, it would be as simple as presenting the bank with a death certificate for the beneficiary to get the money released. Any asset that passes under a Will must go through the probate court. Letters testamentary are issued by the court if there is formal probate administration appointing a personal representative. The personal representative receives the funds and then distributes them to the beneficiaries.

If the estate is small enough in lieu of formal probate, it may be eligible for a simpler proceeding called a summary administration. Read more about this probate option in my blog section of this site.

Contact me personally today to discuss your New Jersey probate matter. I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns. You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County New Jersey Probate Attorney

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