Q: Does a Letter of Administration give immediate access to deceased personal bank acct without probate or small estate?
My dad died almost a month ago without a will. His estranged wife isn't communicating with me about the affairs of his estate since we received death certificates. They were separated (not legally) and had not lived together for 5 years. His personal bank account was solely in his name and had no beneficiary or POD. Since there's no will, if she gets a Letter of Admin. and appointed administrator does it allow her immediate access to his funds without probate court? His personal property is less than $100,000 and can go through small estate procedures instead of probate court, but she would not proceed with either one if appointed administrator and able to transfer money from his personal account (if that's possible?). Before she stopped all communication, she told me she needed to transfer money from his account, but I know she was not a beneficiary. Today the bank only would tell me his account was closed. I cannot file a small estate affidavit for 2 more weeks. I appreciate any help
A: You need to open a probate. You will most likely need the court to render a decision on who gets the money and probably go through the discovery process to figure out what happened with the money. The small estate affidavit process does not work in contested matters. She may have already filed a small estate to clear out the bank account. If that is the case you will need to open a probate and have her account for her actions. You need to consult with a lawyer about this situation.
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