The bank holding my deceased mother’s certificate of deposit and will not distribute the funds to her estate without her will being probated. Can the bank require my family to go through that process?
The probate process is what is used to “prove” the document is in fact her last Will, there are no challenges to it, and any claims against the estate are adjudicated under court supervision.
If the account was solely in her name, it now is the property of her estate, and only the executor named in a Will after the appointment is confirmed by the probate court, or a personal representative of her estate designated by the probate court, has rights to the money. Further if the bank paid a beneficiary and any creditor did not get paid, or any Federal estate taxes were not paid, the bank could be held liable to the creditors/tax authorities if it did not make payments pursuant to a probate court’s authorization.
In some cases it is true an institution may waive the requirement that it be probated if the beneficiary is the principal heir at law, all other possible heirs at law have signed waivers and authorizations to pay the money to the beneficiary, and have agreed to indemnify the bank should any claims be made. But that’s the exception, rather than the rule for nationally operating institutions.