My mother's estate was settled and closed in 1999. My father, who was the executor of her estate, died in August 2009 and his estate has not yet been put in to probate and my stepmother is not giving us any information about when that will happen. About 3 weeks ago, I received an email from an old neighbor of ours telling us that she found my mother's name on a list of unclaimed funds from an electric company she had an account with 25 years ago. I contacted the electric company and they said they would make the check out to my mom's estate c/o of my name but, I should call my bank to make sure they would accept that. My bank in turn told me to contact an attorney. What are my options? This is in the state of ohio. Will the estate have to be reopened for $1000 check?
There is a small estate proceeding that is available to you because of the size of the estate.
You should have no problem obtaining an order from the Probate court assigning the check to you, without having to go through standard probate proceedings.
Your father's situation is entirely different, and it would depend on the title to the assets. If title was held jointly with his wife, or if she was named beneficiary, then it probably would not matter what your father's Will said, in relation to those assets. It is possible you are not getting information on that, because there will be no estate. You may be able to persuade your stepmother to turn over some of your father's (or mother's) personal items to you, even if this is the case.
If there IS a probate estate opened for your father, (because he had assets in his name alone), then you would be considered an interested party in the probate proceeding, and you would get notice and you would likely be entitled to copies of all probate filings.
Best of luck to you!
Estate Planning Attorney
I have to disagree with Mr. Frederick's anwer if your mother already had a full adminstration of her estate you probably will not be able to use an release from administration for the estate. You need to consult with a probate attorney regading the costs and fees of reopening the estate to take care of this check.
I had a similar experience in PA with one of my clients. Here they had a procedure available by signing certain forms whereby the sole beneficiary was able to get a check made out in her name alone. Perhaps OH has a similar procedure, so cal them back explain to them the situation and ask if there is another procedure for having them send you the check in your name alone.
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You can re-open the estate and have someone else besides the deceased executor appointed to collect the assets from unclaimed funds. That person would then be required to report to the court on the distribution of the assets.
Many local probate attorneys would charge a minimal fee when there is $1,000 at issue. I would suggest contacting an attorney, who could make the process quick and easy for you. Your other alternative would be to contact the information desk at the probate court. They are typically very helpful and may be able to walk you through the process.