Probate for Small Estates in Washington DC

The probate process in DC has a reputation as being overly complicated and lengthy. This is because the traditional probate format can require months or even years of court proceedings and administration.

Fortunately, for estates with a certain value, it is possible to petition the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to approve small estate status. This can expedite the distribution of assets and lessen the burden on personal representatives, compared to full probate. As a result, any estate that qualifies for small status should ask the court for certification.

A trusts and estates attorney could provide more information about the concept of probate for small estates in Washington DC and how it may benefit a decedent’s heirs and legatees.

Factors and Requirements for the Certification as a Small Estate

Parties who submit petitions for probate to the Superior Court must make a variety of decisions prior to this step, including determining whether the decedent’s estate may qualify as a small estate. The Petition for Administration of the Small Estate form requires the petitioner to include information concerning the decedent’s last place of residence and why the petitioner should be granted status as the personal representative. Usually, a person claims this status because they were nominated in the decedent’s will.

The main factor that determines whether an estate qualifies as small is the value of the decedent’s assets. According to the Code of the District of Columbia § 20-351, only estates with a value of $40,000 or less will qualify for this shortened form of probate. As such, petitioners must include a list of the decedent’s assets when filing their paperwork with the court. An experienced DC lawyer could help provide any evidence to prove small estate status.

Advantages to Small Estates in DC

Any petitioner who believes an estate may qualify for small status should seriously consider requesting it, as it allows the court to authorize the distribution of many funds in a faster matter. Once a court approves the petition for a small estate, it will appoint a personal representative. This representative can then take immediate action to pay for the allowable funeral expenses of the decedent.

If it is necessary to sell property to make these payments, the court can empower the representative to take that step. If the estate has any value after these payments, the court can admit the will so the representative can distribute the remaining property. This process occurs far faster than in ordinary probate. In fact, most small estates come to completion within 120 days.

Obtaining small estate status also benefits personal representatives. Normally, these people may need to offer a bond as a promise to perform their duties under the District’s probate code. However, DC Code § 20-354 says that representatives do not need to offer a bond when dealing with a small estate. Additionally, the requirements to provide notice to other interested parties may not apply to small estates. If the court does issue this requirement, the individuals have only 30 days after receipt of the notice to file a claim.

Let an Attorney Provide More Information About Probate for Small Estates in DC

When a person dies with limited resources or assets, their estate may qualify as small under the law. Interested parties or personal representatives who are filing a petition for probate may benefit to consider this option when available.

If you are a representative for a decedent and wish to learn more about probate for small estates in Washington DC, reach out to an attorney today.