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Spouse passed no WILL, Bank Account in separate name, married since 2006, no kids, Small Estate Affidavit or ?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My spouse passed suddenly last week married since 2006 no kids, currently married he had no WILL. We kept separate bank accounts he had a small business it was easier for spending. I am not listed on checking account and it’s around $55k am I to file Small Estate Affidavit or Informal Probate. I am just trying to have the bank account and no one will be trying to get to it. I just don’t know which is the correct one to do. I am very confused and not wanting to get a lawyer to spend more money when it should be one or the other. It is kind of a shame if you have a marriage certificate and even though not on acct or no WILL it doesn’t default to you automatically in times of grief.

ANSWER BY MARGARET CROSS-BELIVEAU:

By law, an asset only automatically transfers to another individual if the asset is held as a joint owner between the two or the account was set up as a transfer on death account.  It is unclear what type of small business he had (LLC, sole proprietorship, S corp.) .  At this point, you could be probating his business ownership, not the bank account.  The asset limit for a small estate is $25,000 in Massachusetts, so you are over the limit.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate administration attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provide legal services for probate, estate administration, and trust administration. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

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