In some situations, joint accounts that are otherwise non-probate assets can be brought into the probate estate. The estate executor can recover the non-probate funds from the beneficiaries who received them and can also force financial institutions to provide information regarding non-probate accounts.

Joint Accounts Brought into Probate.
Multiple party bank accounts can be brought into the probate estate by the estate’s executor or administrator to pay estate taxes and, if other assets of the estate are insufficient, to pay debts, other taxes, and expenses of administration.

Recovery from Account Beneficiaries.
The personal representative of the estate can force the account beneficiaries who have received funds from the multiple party accounts to turn those funds over to the estate, up to the amount received. However, the personal representative has no duty to pursue the recovery of the non-probate assets unless a written demand is made by a surviving spouse, a creditor, or someone acting on behalf of a minor child of the decedent.

Estate’s Access to Non-Probate Information.
Estates Code revisions in 2019 require third-party financial institutions holding non-probate assets to provide information to the personal representative about the decedent’s assets, even if the estate has no claim to those assets. This assists the representative in preparing an estate tax return, or in determining whether non-probate assets should be pursued to pay debts and expenses.

Steve Spitzer

Steve Spitzer
Probate Law
Managing Shareholder
sspitzer@rameyflock.com