If the value of the estate is less than $20,000 you can use an Affidavit of Entitlement to access the bank account.  In addition, if you are named on the bank account as a co-owner with rights of survivorship, you should only have to present the death certificate to obtain full ownership of the funds.  If you are a family member that is not named on the account and the estate is valued in excess of $20,000, it is likely that you will need to probate the estate. Once the judge orders that you are entitled to the funds, you can present the order to the bank to obtain the money.

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