When you die, all of the money in your bank account will end up going to someone else. How the money is distributed will depend on what type of account you have and what provisions you have made in advance. You could use joint accounts, payable on death accounts and a will to determine what happens to your accounts when you die.
Joint ownership accounts
One of the ways to handle this issue is to set up your accounts as joint accounts. For example, if you are married, you can get both you and your spouse on the bank account. If you are elderly and you have children, you could put one of them as the joint owner of the account. When you die, nothing has to happen for your beneficiary to gain access to the money. Since they are a partial owner of the savings account, they can simply take the money out anytime they want.
Another tool that you could use to decide what happens to money in an account when you die is a payable-on-death account. This type of account can be set up at most banks and credit unions. When you set up your savings account, you simply have to fill out a form that designate who will receive the money in the account when you die. As soon as you die, the money will then be given to the person that you specified. This procedure can also work on retirement accounts.
If you do not have a payable-on-death account or own the account jointly with someone else, the money will have to go through the probate process. If you have a will, the money will eventually be given to the person that you specified. It is up to the executor of your estate to take the will to the probate court and begin the process. The judge will then make sure that the will is valid, and then the assets in your state will be distributed accordingly.
If you do not have a will when you die, all of your states will be divided according to the decisions of the probate court. An administrator will be appointed to your estate and he will help with the distribution process. All of your creditors will first be paid out of the estate and then any assets left over will be divided by the probate court. Family members will most likely receive the benefits, but the distribution will be according to the judge.