You may be able to collect bank accounts and other assets by simply preparing and presenting an affidavit requesting that the funds be released to you. You don't have to file anything in court and you may not need a lawyer to do this. However, there are conditions that must be met.
How Does It Work?
New York State law (SCPA 1310) permits a person to settle a small estate without the need to file papers in court. Simplifying the process of collecting the decedent's money or securities held by banks, insurers, government agencies, employers and other institutions. In other words, you may be able to collect the decedent's funds without filing for probate, intestate administration or voluntary letters. If you qualify, you can save a great deal of money on legal fees and court filing fees. Additionally, avoiding the court process will save you time.
The Surviving Spouse of the Decedent May Collect up to $30,000
Immediately after the death of the decedent, a surviving spouse may collect up to $30,000 in assets by simply presenting the institution(s) with an affidavit and a death certificate. If your husband or wife dies with assets of $30,000 or less, you may be able to collect the money without much hassle or expense. However, if an Executor, Administrator or Voluntary Administrator has been appointed, then the affidavit cannot be used.Not all assets may be collected in this way (e.g.,real property cannot be sold using this procedure).
30 Days After Death, Relatives May Collect up to $15,000
Thirty days after the decedent died, up to $15,000 may be collected by the spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews or a creditor who has paid the funeral expenses. The list of relatives is in order of entitlement. The surviving spouse was included in this section in order to maintain the order of entitlement (i.e, the surviving spouse always has first priority).
6 Months After Death, Other Relatives May Collect up to $5,000
Six months after the decedent's death, up to $5,000 may be collected by a distributee or by a person that paid for the decedent's funeral. Examples of distributees are grandchildren, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.