Most Wills have to be probated because banks and other financial institutions will not usually give the executor access to the deceased’s accounts nor release any assets without a probated Will.
Financial institutions insist on probate because if they act on a probated Will and then something goes wrong with the estate (e.g. the executor absconds with the estate assets), the financial institution cannot be held responsible.
Every financial institution has its own probate requirements and dollar minimums. A financial institution may waive probate if the size of the deceased’s accounts was very small (e.g. less than $10,000), and where everything goes to a surviving spouse or immediate family members who are also their clients.
If accounts in the deceased’s name were very small, the executor should call the financial institutions to determine if they require probate, before taking the time and incurring the costs to apply for probate.
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