When bank account funds of a Miami resident are held in the sole name of that person and that person dies, in order to get the bank to release the funds to the spouse or the estate, the spouse or personal representative will need to get a court order. However, if there are other heirs or the will is not specific on who is to receive the funds, the money becomes part of the general assets of the estate.

Since Miami probate and estate matters are complicated, it is suggested that you speak with an experienced Miami probate and estate attorney. The attorney will be able to review the will and discuss the type of probate proceeding that needs to be filed with the Miami-Dade Court in order to get the funds released to you or the estate. The type of proceeding and how long it will take to get the funds depends on the total value of the estate.

Small Estates

If the estate is valued at $6,000 or under, your attorney can file a petition for small estates with the Miami-Dade County Clerk. This process is fairly quick. The attorney will request a hearing on the matter and can represent you at the hearing. In order to get the court to issue an order transferring the funds, you will need to provide a certified copy of your spouse’s death certificate, a copy of the funeral bill showing that you paid the funeral expenses and documentation showing that any debts have been paid or that provisions have been made to pay the debts.

Petition for Summary Administration

For estates with assets more than $6,000 and up to $75,000, your attorney can file a Petition for Summary Administration, which is also a less formal and faster procedure than a formal probate. The Petition is also filed with the Miami-Dade Court. You will also need a certified copy of the death certificate in order to obtain the order from the court.

Formal Probate Petition

For larger estates, the probate process is more complicated and takes approximately 6 to 8 months or longer depending on whether real property needs to be sold or there are any will contest matters. The personal representative or executor named in the decedent’s will must file a petition for probate with the Miami-Dade Court, together with the original will and certified death certificate. Many times the personal representative is also the surviving spouse, which makes it easier for the spouse to get the bank funds transferred to the spouse or the estate. The attorney can handle the filing and court hearings on behalf of the estate or the spouse. Once the spouse is appointed as the personal representative, the letters of administration can be delivered to the bank to release the funds.

The funds from your spouse’s bank account should be placed in an estate bank account until the creditor’s claims and other estate expenses have been paid. After all the expenses have been paid, the assets, including the bank account funds, can be distributed to you or the rightful heirs in the manner designated under the decedent’s will and/or trust.

If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.