Your relative has died.
Do you need to open a probate case? What is a probate case?
When someone passes away and they have left assets in their name alone (for more details on what needs to be probated, see our blog post: The Non-Probate Pail) you will likely need to open up a probate case in order to transfer the assets from the decedent’s name into those of his or her beneficiaries.
So what kind of case needs to be opened? And do you really need an attorney to do it?
There are three basic types of proceedings for administering a decedent’s estate:
Formal Administration: In general, this type of proceeding is customarily reserved for when the assets exceed $75,000.00 and/or it is necessary to appoint a personal representative to act on behalf of the estate. (To learn more about what a Personal Representative is, check out our blog post: What is a PR?) Letters of Administration will be issued to the Personal Representative so that he or she will be able to administer the estate, including marshaling all assets into the estate, dealing with real property (including selling any property), handling all taxable issues, dissolving or transferring the Decedent’s business, and other items which require the estate to be represented.
- Do you need a lawyer? YUP.
Summary Administration: Summary Administration may be filed when the value of the entire estate does not exceed $75,000 or when the decedent has been deceased for more than two years. If the decedent has been deceased for less than two years, a copy of the paid funeral bill is also required. If the estate consists of homestead real property, the value of this property is not taken into account when determining whether the Decedent has less than $75,000.00 (this is known as exempt property); however, if the house is still subject to a mortgage, liens, or other debt tied to the title, you cannot proceed with a Summary Administration and must use Formal Administration.
- Do you need a lawyer? YUP.
Disposition of Personal Property without Administration (Commonly referred to a “Small Estate”): This type of proceeding is filed to request release of the decedent’s assets to the person who paid for final expenses such as funeral costs or medical bills that accrued in the last 60 days. In essence, it is a reimbursement of expenses to the person who paid for funeral, burial, or associated expenses. The amount in the account must be less than the total of expenses to be reimbursed. Disposition of personal property without administration cannot:
- Exceed $6,000
- Exceed the amount of funeral bill
- Include real estate
- Transfer loans
- Release assets from a safe deposit box
- Do you need a lawyer? NOPE.
We have also created a guide that goes in depth into the Small Estate Process. To receive your free copy, please CONTACT US!
It is always best to sit with an attorney to review the facts in order to effectively and efficiently administer an estate. For an initial probate consultation, just send us an email and we’ll reach out to you! Here’s our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org