do I need to probate this estate
If the only asset is money in joint bank accounts, then you very likely do NOT need to file probate. Whether taxes are owed or not may depend on the nature of the accounts. You may be responsible for income taxes.
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Doesn't sound like you do. But just to be sure, have someone check the wording.
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You may want to consult a probate attorney to determine whether probate is necessary. You mention a joint bank account as for monetary assets but you don't say whether there is any real property owned by the decedent, personal property the decedent wants to dispose of or any other assets. If the joint account passes automatically to the survivor and there are no other assets then you likely would not need to probate the will but if there are other assets you should really consult an attorney to discuss what if any tax consequences may arise and to properly administer the estate. I'm sorry for your loss and best of luck.
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Joint accounts do not usually go through probate and no federal estate taxes on 5.25m of less.
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Elder Law Attorney
If the only assets are those held in a joint bank account, then there is nothing to probate. You are obligated to file the will and an original death certificate with the court. You also should review the decedent's financial records, as you may need to file the final personal income tax return.
I suggest that you meet with a probate attorney for a consultation to review the will and the financial records and determine for certain what steps you need to take.
E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.
Estate Planning Attorney
A probate proceeding is not required to transfer an account owned jointly with rights of survivorship. However, I have seen this type of arrangement cause problems in the past. Many individuals add another person to their account for banking convenience, not realizing that they may be disinheriting other relatives and nullifying the terms of their will. If the surviving owner tries to give funds to others named in the will to balance distributions out, they will likely put themselves in a bad situation for tax purposes. Although this situation sounds simple, sitting down with a good probate attorney would be beneficial.