Q: Hello, my mother has a 401 k with Fidelity. She passed away without a will and I need some kind of small estate
document in order to collect funds but I don't know exactly what I need. My mom did not own a home or have any assets can someone give me a clear answer on what I need to do and please talk in layman's terms so I can understand please.
A: Since your mother had a 401k plan, she should have designated you as beneficiary (or one of several beneficiaries) to receive the account. If she did not designate at least one beneficiary, then your mother died Intestate (without a will) and Fidelity is describing a Small Estates Petition in order to permit you to open an estate for your mother so you can get access to the 401k account. Or you (from your short question I am assuming there is no surviving spouse and that you have no siblings) can open an estate administration as the sole surviving heir and be granted Letters of Administration to permit you to get access to the 401k account. While Small Estates Petitions are supposed to be quicker and less complicated than regular estate administrations, in practice in most cases that is not the case, particularly if only dealing with one account like a 401k plan. I would recommend you meet with an estate attorney and determine which process would be quicker and easier for you to understand and administer. In addition to opening an estate, you will have PA Inheritance Taxes to file, and also income tax issues on the 401k plan, so you are not likely going to want to try this without legal assistance.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.