We sometimes see situations where a person passes away without having designated a “payable on death” or “transfer on death” beneficiary on their bank account. If you need to access a loved ones bank account after death, you may be able to. If the account contains less than $50,000.00, it is possible for the bank to distribute the money from the account directly to the heirs of the deceased account holder—without having to probate the decedent’s estate—through a document often referred to as a “Small Estate Affidavit.”
The Small Estate Affidavit for bank account distribution is authorized pursuant to 6 O.S. § 906 (click here to read the statute). The statute requires the following conditions to be met in order for the Small Estate Affidavit to be utilized:
- The name of the deceased account holder must be the only name on the account;
- There must be no “payable on death” or “transfer on death” beneficiary designated on the account paperwork on file with the bank;
- The amount of the aggregate deposits held in the subject account AND any other single-ownership accounts in the name of the decedent which do not have designated “payable on death” or “transfer on death” beneficiaries must be $50,000.00 or less;
- The deceased account holder must not have a Last Will and Testament; and
- Each heir of the deceased account holder must sign the Small Estate Affidavit in the presence of a notary public.
Upon receipt of a properly executed Small Estate Affidavit, a bank or credit union is considered released and discharged by law for any transfer of deposits made in good-faith reliance on the Small Estate Affidavit. The bank will not be held liable to any other party including any heir, legatee, devisee, creditor, or other person having rights or claims to funds of the deceased account holder.
Hopefully this blog post will help you should you need to access a loved ones bank account after death. But if you need help we are here for you. If you have any questions about Small Estate Affidavits or other estate distribution tools, we will be glad to assist you with a free consultation. We can be reached by phone at 918.782.0000 or contact us here now.