Q: What is the procedure for filing a Small Estate Affidavit in PA?
Must an executor be named and an Estate Account established if there will be no sale of property, just the reclaim of a small amount of funds?
A: There is not enough specific information here to give you any specific answers. There is no requirement to open an Estate administration every time someone dies. If there are no assets to collect and no debts to pay it may be possible to avoid an administration. There are times when companies will issue refund or rebate checks to a surviving spouse or to surviving children of a decedent dependent on the amount of the check and the reason for the payment. If the companies will not issue direct checks you can also look into a Small Estates Petition as an alternative to opening an Estate administration.
Most people/legal heirs, would not even open a probate proceeding where the only asset is a small amount of funds. However, if the funds are held in a financial institution, and the decedent had not executed a Power of Attorney in favor of one the heirs, the institution might well require a copy of Letters Testamentary evidencing the heir's authority to withdraw the funds.
Much of that is driven by the PA Dept. of Revenue, wanting to make sure it gets its cut of any assets left by a decedent. It might be sufficient to get a written tax release from the PA Dept. of Revenue to present to the financial institution. And show the Certificate of Death to the institution.
You should, of course, examine all of the decedent's records to determine whether there are any other assets, and/or any right to receive money, e.g., a life insurance policy. Most credit union, for instance, offer a free life insurance policy for a $1,000.00 death benefit to credit union members.
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