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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 37365
Experience:  16 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
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My husband and i have separate bank accounts. He just died

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My husband and i have separate bank accounts. He just died and has 50k in his savings account. He doesnt have a will. We assumed it would automatically go to the surviving spouse. If i provide death certificate can i get the 50k tranferred to my account. This is massachusetts

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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First let me express my condolences on your loss.. I know you are going through a lot right now and I will try to help.

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Did he have any other assets that were in his name solely or other assets that he didn't own jointly with you?

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Does he have any children?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
No other assets and no children
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Would rather have it here so i have facts in writing and i dont misunderstand anything

No worries, if you are talking about the phone call thing... I don't send those out, they are automatically generated by JustAnswer...

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I am afraid that I don't have good news for you because in order to qualify for the "small estate affidavit" probate process where you just fill out a form to claim any personal property, the estate of the deceased must be $25,000 or less.

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So with an account of $50,000 it would be well over the small estate limit and a normal probate case would have to be filed to settle the estate and transfer the assets over to you.

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You would have to file a formal probate petition in the local probate court to be appointed Administrator of the estate by the judge. You would then be able to gather all assets, file an inventory, pay any debts and final taxes, then file an accounting, distribute the assets to yourself as the sole heir, and then close the estate.

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That is a very abbreviated explanation of the process and the actual process will take about 15 months because there is a statutory 12 month "creditor claims" period where the estate has to remain open for any creditor to file a claim before the estate could be closed.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
i can use any of the money...debit card to pay the funeral expenses

If you have access to it via a debit card, and the bank hasn't put a freeze on the account, then yes, you could use it. Technically you can't because it should go into his estate and go through probate. But since you are the only heir, there is no one to object or raise a fuss if you used that money for expenses as it would come to you anyway.

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If the bank doesn't become aware of him passing and freeze the account, you could theoretically use all the money over time and not even bother with filing a probate case...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I have his debit card his password ***** access to his online account. I will put all funeral expenses on my credit card then pay the bill with electronic check if i can .. and that would be ok? I will use electronic check to pay other debt i have also if ok
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
What if he has debt. I should do the same and pay his credit card debt also

I will put all funeral expenses on my credit card then pay the bill with electronic check if i can .. and that would be ok?

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It is not quite administratively correct. But realistically no one will care. The point is that there is no one to object to you doing so. If there were other heirs it might be different, but with only you, there is no one to raise a fuss if you don't follow the exact proper process to settle the estate.

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What if he has debt. I should do the same and pay his credit card debt also

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Yes, all debts have to be paid out of the estate funds before you would receive anything.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I dont know what all his debts are yet but if for some reason his funeral and debts exceed what is in his bank account. Am i responsible for any additional debt above what he has in his acct??

Can you tell me what state you are in? that will tell me if you could be liable if his debts exceed the $50K...

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Massachusetts...his debts do not exceed 50k. If all his debt wasn't paid..could they look back at his bank acct to see where that money was spent..and hold me accountable. For example i paid for furniture we both enjoyed but it was under my name...i would like to pay that off with his funeral expenses first and need to save some of that 50k in case he owes federal tax. He never paid enough taxes during the yeat. So some of his debt might not get paid. What will happen?

I am sorry I forgot that you already mentioned you were in Mass.. Since Mass is not a community property state, you are not liable for his debts if his assets aren't enough to pay them all.

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If all his debt wasn't paid..could they look back at his bank acct to see where that money was spent..and hold me accountable.

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Legally yes, because in probate all creditors get paid before any heirs get anything..

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But from a realistic perspective, if some creditors don't get paid, it is kind of unlikely that they would spend thousands to open a probate case to pursue this. You could just send them a letter stating that his estate was insolvent and no probate case will be filed. Then most creditors will just write off the debt as uncollectible.

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thanks

Barrister

Did you have any further questions that I can assist with?

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided as that is the only way I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks much

Barrister

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