My sister recently passed away. We have managed to get everything wrapped up with the exception of her last two paychecks. I was the beneficiary in her life insurance and I have split it between her three children. When I tried to cash her last paychecks, I was not able to because I was not the executor. The check is for about 1,200.00. Is going through the process to become the executor going to be worth the cost just to cash that check? Thanks for any insight you can give. She lived in GA in Worth County.
I can't speak to Georgia law, but I can tell you that generally unclaimed monies end up sent to the department of state government that deals with unclaimed property. Then the heirs may claim it if they meet the requirements of that department. I'm not suggesting you do that; I'm saying, that may be one of the options available. I have seen such circumstances where checks show up after an estate closes; the bank account is closed, it's, say, a $30 check, and it's not worth reopening the estate or the estate's bank account to cash it. So it ends up at the state, where an heir can claim it.
Not legal advice, just my two cents. I don't practice law in Georgia or hold Georgia licensure. Consult Georgia counsel to obtain legal advice. I practice in Vermont ONLY.
I'm sorry to hear about your sister.
I really commend you for splitting the life insurance proceeds among the children. It was probably the right thing to do, but it's rare that an insurance beneficiary actually honors the wishes of a deceased in that way.
To your question, yes - probate itself may be more costly, especially if you hire an attorney. Of course, if the deceased had any debts or other obligations to pay, then the $1,200 wouldn't necessarily become yours, even after probate. For that matter, a sibling is not the first in line to receive cash in the decedent's name - spouse and children are.
If the children are all agreed on who should get the cash (or the children and the spouse, if your sister was married), you could attempt to deposit the paychecks in the deceased's last bank account and then use an "affidavit for financial institutions" in order to withdraw it. I'm posting a link to this affidavit below.
Best of luck.
No attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by this communication. This answer is to be considered as a general discussion of legal principals and is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. If the asker seeks specific legal advice, he should retain an attorney, who will naturally take the time to consider all aspects of the case and perform any necessary legal research.
Below is a link that explains the wall estate affidavit process in GA.
If you need further assistance, consult with a local attorney.
Sorry to hear about your sister. Does she have a will? Are her children minors?
I suggest you contact the Probate Court in Worth County where your sister died. They would be able to tell you what the court costs and other expenses would be to administer your sister's estate.
If the children are adults, you can consider filing a Petition for Letters of Administration. That would likely be the quickest and cheapest route. Be sure each of the children will consent to the Petition and consent to waiving the formal requirements for bond and reporting.
If the children are under 18 (unlikely since you gave them the life insurance proceeds), then you may want to consider filing a Petition for Year's Support. Good luck!
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