Deposit Accounts, Death of an Accountholder: Affidavit of Heirship


When an accountholder dies, is an affidavit of heirship sufficient for us to close the account and pay the funds to the heirs named in the affidavit?


There are some very abbreviated probate proceedings that can take care of a deceased accountholder. You might get an affidavit of heirship, but it isn\'t a court document and is just one or more people swearing who the heirs are.  If an heir is left out or there is a creditor that is left out, the bank could have some liability for the money it just gave to the heirs named in the affidavit.  If the estate is less than $50,000, it can possibly be handled with a Small Estate Affidavit.  A Small Estate Affidavit is presented to the court and the judge approves the affidavit.  Once the judge approves it, you can pay the money as stated in the affidavit.  If this is done, the bank will have no liability if heirs get left out or debts do not get paid (unlike the affidavit of heirship where there are risks to the bank). There are some other abbreviated probate proceedings the heirs might use, but when the heirs bring the court documents to you, I would recommend that your bank\'s attorney review them and approve the withdrawal and closing of the account.  If the account is too small to pay your attorney to review documents, it is up to the bank to decide whether to take the risk that it has what is needed.

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