Opening an Estate in DC Probate

The process for opening an estate in the District of Columbia is dictated by the nature of the assets, presence or absence of a last will and testament, and the facts of the specific estate. Generally, opening an estate involves filing a petition for probate with the name of the person who is seeking to be appointed as Personal Representative. The petition gives a brief overview of the assets. The petition also includes a list of interested persons, noting their address and relationship to the decedent. Along with the initial petition, other pleadings typically include a draft order, Notice of Appointment, Notice to Creditors and Notice to Unknown Heirs, or any other required notices as determined by the type of administration sought.

The original last will and testament is always filed with the DC Superior Court Probate Division. Below, a DC probate lawyer explains the creation of an estate in DC. To learn more about the process and how it works, call today to schedule a consultation with our experienced DC probate lawyer.

Filing the Will

The originals are filed along with the initial pleadings with the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Probate Division.

Initial Filings in DC Probate Cases

Depending on the nature or type of administration, the initial filing usually involves a petition for probate, a notice, and a probate order that corresponds with the type of administration the person seeks.
Notice requirements may differ depending on the type of probate. For example, if an unsupervised administration is sought, a Notice of Appointment, Notice to Creditors, and Notice to Unknown Heirs is filed and published for three consecutive weeks in two local newspapers. For standard probate, a Notice of Standard Probate is required.

Personal Representative’s Bonds

DC requires Personal Representatives to apply for and attain a Personal Representative’s bond. However, all of the heirs of the estate or residuary beneficiaries may waive the bond requirement. In addition, the last will and testament of the decedent may also waive the requirement for bond.

Large Estates vs Small Estates

The amount of the probate assets dictates the difference between a large estate and a small estate. Probate assets include all of the assets titled in the decedent’s sole name as of the date of his or her death.

Court Hearing

After the initial filing, depending on the type of probate proceeding, it may be necessary to have a court hearing.

Appointing a Personal Representative: Letter of Administration

If the hearing is successful, or no hearing is required, then the court appoints a Personal Representative and issues a Letter of Administration. The Letter of Administration gives the Personal Representative the authority to act on behalf of the estate.

The administration process depends on the facts of the case, the nature of the assets, and the nature of the proceeding applied for. Usually, after appointment, the Personal representative marshals all of the decedent’s assets. The Personal Representative pays any legally enforceable debts, and ensures that all income and estate tax returns, if required, are filed. Finally, the Personal Representative make distribution according to the terms of the decedent’s last will and testament or the laws of District of Columbia for intestacy.