Is setting up an estate really necessary?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 17, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother passed away last month. My father received a check from medical insurance for premiums paid in the amount of $3700 made out to The Estate of my mother.

She has a will stating that my father inherits all her assets upon her death, but no estate was set up in her name. My father is not in the insurance companies file as payor even though he signed all the premium payment checks.

He has been told that it will cost $231 to file an estate in her name. This is the only money that he will receive made out to her estate. What can he do to avoid having to pay $231 to cash one check?

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

A Will is meaningless until it has been filed and approved by the Probate Court through the probate process. Regardless of who may have paid the premium, if the policy was a policy of your mother's, the return of premium belongs to her estate and it will be necessary to probate the estate. Many states have provisions for simplified probate that your mother's estate may be eligible for which cost very little to file. Check with your local probate court.