What If Account has No Named Beneficiary?

Account with no named beneficiary
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My wife died and left a bank account with no beneficiary. The bank tells me I have to go through probate. I inherited everything else. What do I have to do?

It’s not uncommon for a person to have banking, retirement, or other investment accounts with no designated beneficiary when they pass away.

Beneficiaries can include spouses, children, other family members, friends, and charities. You can generally add beneficiary designations to assets, such as bank accounts, securities accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, savings bonds, and many other assets. Designating a beneficiary will determine how an asset is distributed at the owner’s death, regardless of the person’s will or trust provisions.

The first step is to probate the will of a deceased, assuming she had one, says nj.com’s recent article entitled “My wife died, and her account has no beneficiary. What’s next?”

When a person dies without a surviving beneficiary named for an account, the assets go to that person’s estate.

So, if a person left a Will, assets in a banking account would pass to beneficiaries under that will.

If the decedent had no will, the beneficiaries would be dictated by the state’s laws in which the decedent resided. These are known as intestacy laws, and they describe who inherits if there’s no will.

An estate may have to go through the probate process before the decedent’s assets can be transferred to the will’s beneficiaries. It depends on the size of the decedent’s estate and where he or she lived and died. States have a small estate limit: if an estate falls below that limit, no probate is required.

If you don’t need to go through probate, there’s a way for a beneficiary to request that a banking account be transferred without a court order. If an estate must go through probate, you’ll need a court order (which is how probate ends) to have the assets transferred to your name.

Reference: nj.com (Oct. 22, 2021) “My wife died, and her account has no beneficiary. What’s next?”