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I am divorced and my children's father just passed away.

Customer Question
Good morning: I...

Good morning: I am divorced and my children's father just passed away. They dont know if with a death certificate can the funds in his bank account be released and life insurance if he had any? They werent close to their father but now are responsible for funeral expenses and they were told bills he may have outstanding. He seems to only have medical bills open. Are my children responsible for these and can they use the little funds he has in his bank account to assist them in paying for this funeral? Thank you.

Lawyer's Assistant: Estate laws vary by state. What state are you in?

Wisconsin

Lawyer's Assistant: What documents or supporting evidence do you have?

His bank statement and that's all. His mother passed away last october and he lived in the house his mother owned and all they know is the owner of the property is the name of the family trust. He died in the home his siblings now own, but we didn't see their grandmothers will to see if their dad's portion goes to them or not. They were given very little to go on

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Just that my kids are very confused as to what everyone is telling them

Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: Estate Law
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
9/29/2017
Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 7 months ago
RayAnswers
RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 46,982
Experience: Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law
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Hi and welcome to JA. Ray here to help you today.Please bear with me a few moments while I review your question, conduct and prepare your response.

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Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 7 months ago

They can claim any life insurance that they are the beneficiaries on here directly with a death certificate.If necessary the funeral home would take an assignment.If there are any accounts where they are named beneficiary or payee at death or joint accounts they can access those.Anything titled in his name here will require them to open probate.Funeral expenses are a priority creditor and they can pay them ahead of other ones.They will either need a lawyer r have to make application for probate.

Here are forms if they want to try themselves

https://www.wicourts.gov/forms1/circuit/ccform.jsp?FormName=&FormNumber=&beg_date=&end_date=&StatuteCite=&Category=29&SubCat=Informal%20Administration

They will need to make application to be appointed personal representative of the estate so they can then access the accounts and other assets in his name.They show the bank or other institution their letters from the court.

I appreciate the chance to help you today.Thanks so sorry for your loss.

If you can positive rate 5 stars it is much appreciated.

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Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 7 months ago
Ask Your Own Estate Law Question
Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 7 months ago

Probate is the official way that an estate gets settled under the supervision of the court. A person, usually a surviving spouse or an adult child, is appointed by the court if there is no Will, or nominated by the deceased person's Will. Once appointed, this person, called an executor or Personal Representative, has the legal authority to gather and value the assets owned by the estate, to pay bills and taxes, and, ultimately, to distribute the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.

The purpose of probate is to prevent fraud after someone's death. Imagine everyone stealing the castle after the Lord dies. It's a way to freeze the estate until a judge determines that the Will is valid, that all the relevant people have been notified, that all the property in the estate has been identified and appraised, that the creditors have been paid and that all the taxes have been paid. Once all of that's been done, the court issues an Order distributing the property and the estate is closed.

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Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 7 months ago

Informal Probate

Most probate proceedings in Wisconsin are informal. You can use it when the heirs and beneficiaries are getting along, there are no creditor problems to resolve and you don't expect any trouble.

The process begins when you file an application with the probate court to serve as the "personal representative" of the estate. (This is what most people think of as the "executor"). Once your application is approved, you have legal authority to act for the estate. Usually you'll get what's called "Letters Testamentary" from the court.

Once you get the letters, you need to do these things:

  • Send out formal notice to heirs, beneficaries, and creditors that you know of
  • Publish a notice in a local newspaper to alert other creditors
  • Provide proof that you've mailed notices and published the notice
  • Prepare an inventory and appraisal of the estate's assets
  • Keep all the property safe
  • Distribute the property (when the estate closes)

Once the property's been distributed, you close an informal proceeding by filing a "final accounting" with the court and a "closing statement" that says you've paid all the debts and taxes, distributed the property, and filed the accounting.

Unsupervised Formal Probate

A formal probate, even an unsupervised one, is a court proceeding. That means that a judge must approve certain actions taken by the Personal Representative, such as selling estate property, or distributing assets, or paying an attorney. The purpose of involving a judge is to settle disputes between beneficiaries over the distribution of assets, the meaning of a Will, or the amounts due to certain creditors. The informal probate process won't work if there are disputes, so that's when the court gets involved.

Supervised Formal Probate

A supervised formal probate is one in which the court steps in to supervise the entire probate process. The court must approve the distribution of all property in such a proceeding.

Click here for a link to Wisconsin's probate courts.

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