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John Elder
John Elder, Estate & Elder Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4631
Experience:  Over 14 years experience in Medicaid, Estates, Trust.
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My father passed away in May of 2011. He had created a 501k

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My father passed away in May of 2011. He had created a 501k for my son (his grandson) and listed my son (now age 9) as the beneficiary (and not me). I am trying to wade through the "Transfer Due to Death" paperwork and believe that I need the Letters of Testamentary document from the court in Santa Clara County (where my father died). I have to spend a day off work to make the trip to this county and want to be properly prepared when I arrive.

Can you advise me?

--Scott Morehouse (XXX) XXX-XXXX cell

Welcome! Thank you for your question.


You would NOT need Letters Testamentary if there is a beneficiary designation on the 501k account. Assets with beneficiary designations pass outside the probate system and directly to the designated beneficiary.


However, with that said, since the named beneficiary is a minor you are going to have to go to the probate court (where you live) and get the court to establish you as either the guardian of your son's estate or request authorization to place the funds in a court designated blocked account. Both of these will last until your son is 18. Here are your options:


  1. If the donated property exceeds $5,000 and the child has no guardian of the estate, a court may authorize that the money be deposited in a blocked account or may authorize the purchase of a single-premium deferred annuity. Prob C §3413(a).
  2. A court-supervised guardianship of the child's estate could be established to handle the child's property. Prob C § 1510.

Both of these would have to be done through the probate court where you live with your son.



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