Q: My uncle died with no will, no children, what are my rights as an heir to find out what was in bank accounts he had?
Two living Aunts (his sisters) and me and my 2 sisters (heirs thru my dad (their brother). What are the rights as far as the estate. The one sister is claiming they don't know what he had. The one sister sent a paper to the other sister wanting her to sign (Waiver of bond paper or something) what is this paper? Should we all be allowed to find out what he had or just the Executor and can he just give out what he wants us to have. Just some clarity please?
A: There is a difference between an estate which is subject to probate and a Trust. A Trust is not part of probate generally. The Estate consists of all property held by the decedent directly, personal bank and brokerage accounts, real estate owned by the decedent in his own name or as the beneficiary of a nominee trust. Generally, retirement accounts are not part of probate unless they name the estate as the beneficiary.
I would ask an attorney to review the waiver. The waiver should only be with respect to the appointment of a personal representative (formerly called the Executor) who handles the probate of the estate. They are required to provide an inventory to the court of the all the assets owned directly by the decedent and after the inventory they have to produce an accounting after the first year. The estate in MA is probated in the county where the decedent last resided.
If there was no Will, then any heir can petition to be the Personal Representative. If you want you can seek to have someone other than your aunt appointed Personal Representative.
Feel free to contact me if you have a fundamental question about this process.
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