If you become the executor for a deceased family member, you should know that you might not be in charge of every asset your relative owned. Some assets do not always pass through probate. You might wonder if a bank account is one of them.
According to U.S. News and World Report, bank accounts do not need to go through probate if certain circumstances exist.
You should know whether your relative was the sole owner of his or her bank account. If your family member jointly owned the account with another person, the other owner will receive full rights to the account through right of survivorship without the need to go through probate.
Some people set up a pay-on-death mechanism with their bank. This means an account holder can name somebody as a beneficiary to the account. When the account holder dies, the account will pay out to the named beneficiary.
To accomplish this, the beneficiary should present the bank with a death certificate. This arrangement is a legal contract between a bank and an account holder, so it does not require probate action.
Check a will
If your relative wrote a will, the document might state if your family member wanted to pass the account to another person. If there are no other means to pass or share ownership of the account, you may expect that the bank account will become part of the estate and subject to probate.
Given that it is possible to pass property to other people outside of probate, it is important to check for them early in the probate process so you know if you will have to manage them through probate.