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My friend named me as his sole beneficiary, he had over 100,000.00 in the bank do i need to open probate? no POD/TOD on account

San Diego, CA |

I am the named heir/beneficiary in my friends Will. He said I was to get 100%. He stated in his will his daughter is to not receive anything. I went to the bank with a certified death certificate and the original will. The bank said I would need to contact an attorney, need letters. I have had to pay for his funeral costs and everything. The costs of the funeral were over $5,000.00. What do I do?

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If your friend's estate was worth more than $100,000 then you will need to probate it. You will need to file a Petition for Probate in the county where he died, send notice to everyone named in the will and also to his daughter. The Court will need to appoint you as the executor of his estate (his will merely "nominates" you; only a Judge can appoint you). You will then be subject to all of the regular California probate rules (4 month wait, duty to notify creditors, etc.).

It's possible that you could be appointed as the "special administrator" of your friend's estate if you need access to his money immediately to pay for his funeral. But if you've already paid for it and just want reimbursement, the Court probably won't appoint you as special administrator.

So I suggest that you begin a probate proceeding immediately. You'll need to pay the $395 court filing fee and the cost of publishing the required notice in a newspaper ($100 to $400 depending on the newspaper you're required to use).... but you should NOT pay any lawyer's fees until the Court orders you to pay them.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.



Thank you so much, I have not paid for all of the funeral costs yet, but I was hoping to apply the costs to his estate, they have not given me the full bill yet? I have a feeling I shouldn't have sent his daughter a copy of the funeral bill. She was dis-inherited long ago, and I was alone, sad and worried. She offered to chip in for the funeral out of the blue which surprised me. She never sent a check to me (to chip in)after receiving a copy the funeral bill so far. What can a person do with a copy of the funeral home services bill? Now your have me thinking could she have gone to the court and ordered special administration with the funeral bill and get his bank accounts?


In most cases, if there is no beneficiary on the account or POD, you would need to at least file some document to allow the property to be transferred to you. You should check with a California lawyer as to whether you would have to petition for probate or there is a small estate procedure if the total estate is less than a certain amount per the statute.



Actually he has over 300,000.00 in cash assets. I found the paper work from the bank stating (sole owner). That means no beneficiary added or joint account holder right?


It sounds like you will need to file a probate on your friend's estate, since it is worth over $100,000.00. You can file the papers yourself, but I highly recommend getting an attorney involved, since the court rules and procedures are rather difficult to understand unless you work in this area on a regular basis; and you must follow the court procedures. After the probate hearing, when the executor has their "Letters" , then you can file a creditor's claim to be reimbursed for the funeral expenses you have paid. Until then, the bank account will most likely be frozen.

Disclaimer: This communication is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship and unless this office is formally retained, we have no obligation to assist with your specific matter. You should consult with an attorney in your area to give you specific advice as to your situation.


With an estate exceeding $100,000 in CA a probate is required to transfer assets of the estate. Contact an attorney and open a probate on the estate.

Any individual seeking legal advice for their own situation should retain their own legal counsel as this response provides information that is general in nature and not specific to any person's unique situation. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Advice given in this response cannot be used to eliminate penalties with the IRS or any other governmental agency.

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