A: A Small Estate Affidavit may allow you to collect the account if the total assets in the estate (other than the homestead and exempt property) do not exceed $75,000, and the assets exceed the debts owed by the estate. If the non-exempt, non-homestead assets exceed $75,000 then you'll need a determination of heirship. If you need a determination of heirship and there are unsecured debts owed, then the court will likely appoint you or another qualified individual as the administrator of the estate. I agree with Ms. Garrett that you need to sit down with a probate attorney and weigh you options.
A: Did your mother leave a Will? If so, the Executor named in the Will can offer the Will up for probate and then motion the Court to release the funds held in the registry. If your mother didn't leave a Will you can apply to be named Administrator of her estate, at which point you can motion the Court to release the funds held in the registry. If there is no Will, then the Court will need to determine who your mom's heirs are.