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A: It is difficult to get a probate court to exercise jurisdiction over accounts passing by way of beneficiary designation. Such assets are technically "non-probate" assets. A separate action can, however, be brought in Superior Court for undue influence or lack of capacity in transferring assets into the passbook accounts. This requires evidence of improper actions surrounding the actual the transfer. The money is gone and bank contract is implicated. Recovery is thus difficult, absent solid evidence of undue influence with respect to the accounts.
A: Your mother, if she was married to your father, would typically file a petition to be appointed as "Administrator" of your father's estate. This is done at the probate court for the town where your father resided at the time of death. A death certificate is required, as well as the names and addresses of spouse and all children. You or your siblings can file the petition as well, but it often the wife who signs. After reviewing the petition, the court will notify all heirs of a hearing or opportunity to object to the appointment. If there is no objection, the petition is granted and then the newly appointed Administrator may access accounts and gather all the assets to distribute
to the heirs at law, which would be your mother, your sister and you. Spouse gets first $100k, and 50% of the balance; the children get the rest. If the children are from another relationship, then the estate is divided 50% to the wife and 50% to the children. ... Read More