Small estates provide loved ones with shortened probate proceedings and less costs, granted you meet certain requirements. You don’t even need an attorney! For an explanation of how small estates work, see below.
1. Do you qualify?
In order to qualify to open a small estate, you must meet the following requirements:
- Your loved one’s assets must not exceed $6,000.00 (and may not include real property);
- The assets must not exceed the total amount spent on funeral or medical expenses for the benefit of the deceased; and
- The decedent must have been a resident of the County where the small estate is being opened at the time of death. These requirements are for Miami-Dade County. Some counties have different requirements so it’s always a good idea to check with your local clerk for your county’s requirements.
2. What do you need?
- A certified original copy of the death certificate;
- A copy of the itemized funeral bill or itemized copy of medical expenses;
- Proof of payment of the funeral bill or medical expenses;
- A copy of the most current bank statement;
- The filing fee (in either a cashier’s check or money order). This must be made payable to “The Clerk of Circuit Court.” Unfortunately, the clerk will not accept personal checks.
3. How much is this going to cost?
Luckily, those qualifying for small estates do not need to be represented, so your costs are limited to the filing fee and certified copies of the order. In Miami-Dade County, the filing fee is $235.00 plus $3.00 for each certified copy of the order. You will need one certified copy of the order per bank.
4. What else do I need to know?
Assets are released only to the person who paid the funeral bill or the medical expenses. If the funeral bill or medical expenses have been paid by someone other than the person filing the claim, you must provide the clerk with a notarized release of assets from the person who paid the funeral bill. Also, the surviving spouse may need to file a waiver in order for the petitioner to collect the monies.