If my father only has money to be distributed upon his death, do we still need probate?

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He has his money in checking accounts and a savings account. I am the co-owner of both accounts. His will specifies that it be distributed equally to my sisters and myself.

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Deb - I;ve been executrix twice & here's my take on this. How the account was set up is critical in what you can do. I think that if the accounts are set up POD - pay on death - or joint owner with all right to survivor (survivor would be you), then the $ is yours (as you are named POD or survivor ) and no probate needed to close this account. Then you personally can write checks to whomever it is in your best judgement the way your dad would want (like how it states in his will). Even if you are not named the executor in his will, the $ in the account is paid to whomever is POD or surviving owner.

Just to keep it all kum-ba-ya with family, I'd send everybody the same letter with all the account info and how & when the account was closed and where the checks went. I'd wait a minimum of 90 days after death to do this, just to make sure there is no clawback from SS for the last month (like SS paid 1 month too many) or other last minute items from funeral or burial or end of life care expenses or co-pays from a hospital or hospice or NH. Say your sister signed off for NH admission and then gets a final bill for $ 318.00, then that should get paid first from the account so that Sissy doesn't have to pay from her share of the account.

Some people never go thru probate. If there is really truly no real property or assets, you don't need to. But IF there is any, then you kinda need probate to just to close and legally transfer ownership so that it doesn't become an issue years or decades later when the asset needs to be sold or used as collateral or you get involved in a lein against a property that wasn't ever properly transferred via probate so it becomes a tangled mess legally.

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