A: If you and your parents are all joint owners of the property, you should be able to claim your ownership of their half of the property by a simple affidavit of death of joint owner without the need for probate. If you and your parents are all tenants in common (they own an undivided one-half and you own an undivided one-half of the property but there's no right of survivorship, you will need a court order establishing that you now own their one-half of the property. If it can be established that the fair market value of their one-half of the property is under $185K, there is a simplified probate procedure that can be completed within 60 days at a substantial cost savings to a full probate.
If it can be established that the property is (or was intended to be) trust-owned property, there's another probate procedure that you can use to establish the existence of the trust, the name of the trustee, and the properly belonging to the trust (referred to as a Heggstad petition), which can also be completed within 60 days at a substantial cost savings to a full probate. If none of the above are available, you may have no other choice but to file a petition for probate of the estate. If you need the help of an attorney to explore your options, feel free to give us a call. We have over 30 years' experience in this field. ... Read More
A: No. The only way to open an estate account is with certified letters testamentary or letters of administration issued by a probate court. If your situation is truly a small estate, then those persons rightfully entitled to the money through the estate should sign the small estate affidavit form claiming the money in their individual capacities, submit the form to the bank, collect the money and close out the account. There should be no need for an estate account.