A small estate proceeding may be opened for people who died after April 26, 2001, and had assets with a total value of $40,000.00 or less. If the person died between January 1, 1981, and June 30, 1995, the value of the estate must be $10,000 or less to qualify as a small estate. If the person died between July 1, 1995, and April 26, 2001, the value must be $15,000 or less to qualify.
Small Estates (SEB) FAQs
Generally, the type and amount of assets - the assets of a small estate are $40,000.00 or less for people who died after April 26, 2001. A large estate can be opened for an estate of any value.
Persons, including attorneys, appointed to be personal representatives in small estates are not entitled to be paid for acting as personal representatives. Attorneys for personal representatives in small estates can receive up to $1,000.00 depending on the size of the estate and other payments approved by the Court in the final order.
Yes, a small estate may be opened when the decedent’s assets include real estate located outside the District of Columbia. Publication will be required in such a case.
No. However, a large estate may be opened when it is necessary to obtain medical records for any purpose including potential litigation.
It is recommended that the petition be filed in person so that any questions may be resolved immediately and the petition will be processed more efficiently. If you do not live in the Washington DC metropolitan area or cannot file in person for any other reason, the petition, filing fee, and required attachments may be mailed to Probate Division, DC Superior Court, 515 5th Street, NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20001.
Yes if the decedent owned an asset that needs to be transferred. According to the law in the District of Columbia, only a Court-appointed personal representative has authority over any assets that were solely owned by a person who is now deceased when there is no beneficiary or payable on death designation. The Court-appointed personal representative will collect the decedent’s assets and make distribution in accordance with the final order that the Court will issue.
As a general rule, if the paperwork that is submitted for filing is complete, only one time. If the paperwork is incomplete or more supporting documents are required, more meetings may be necessary.
Identify your family members by name, and indicate that you do not know where they live. If you are petitioning for appointment as personal representative, but you do not have priority to serve, you must file a sworn statement as to your efforts to locate the persons who have priority to serve.
The nominated personal representative in a will or, if the decedent died without a will, an heir with the highest priority to serve as personal representative may file a petition to open a small estate proceeding. The estate procedure is always easier and faster if the person with highest priority to serve files the petition to open the small estate. The order of priority is listed below.
The Superior Court’s rules require that the forms be typed. However, waiver of the rule may be requested, and the petition for small estate proceeding may then be handwritten, if legible. The Notice of Appointment, Notice to Creditors and Notice to Unknown Heirs must be typed. Typewriters are available for this purpose at the Probate Division, 515 5th Street, NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC
Contact the insurance company to determine its procedure for assuming the policy owned by a deceased person. An estate may need to be opened if the insurance policy is being cashed and the proceeds paid to the decedent’s estate.
No, unless you would like to hire an attorney to assist you. Small estate petitions are fairly simple to complete. Small estate specialists are available in the Legal Branch of the Probate Division to answer any questions remaining when the petitions are filed.
The District of Columbia Code (DC Code, sec. 20-303) defines who has the highest priority to serve as a personal representative of an estate. If you are not the person with the highest priority to serve, seeking appointment will be more difficult. Priority to serve is as follows:
1. The personal representative named in the decedent’s will if there is a will
2. If the person dies without a will, the surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children If the person dies with a will, the surviving spouse or domestic partner
The expenses that are eligible for reimbursement are Court costs, publication costs, administrative costs, and/or statutory funeral costs.
The beneficiary of an insurance policy is entitled to keep the proceeds of the policy and is not obligated to spend the money on the decedent’s funeral. Because the law allows repayment of the first $1,500.00 of funeral expenses as a priority distribution, the insurance beneficiary is entitled to be repaid for up to $1,500.00 of funeral costs.
It is necessary to open an estate because since June 2006, the District of Columbia government has required a Court order to transfer title to motor vehicles solely owned by a decedent.
A funeral bill must be submitted because it is a reimbursable expense of administration. The person who paid the bill may receive a refund of some or all of that payment from the assets of the estate.
A written Verification of Assets is required because it confirms an asset’s value and type and confirms for the Court that the case is within the jurisdictional limits of a small estate. All assets are included in the final order, and the amount of the asset must be exact to the penny or the distributions included in the final order will be incorrect.
If assets are discovered after a final order has issued, a supplemental petition for small estate proceeding and written verification of those newly found assets must be filed. If the amount discovered increases the estate assets over $40,000.00, then a petition for probate for a large estate must be filed.
The following pleadings must be verified to be filed in the Probate Division:
1. All Petitions - SCR-PD 2(b) and 3
2. Complaints filed in Probate Matters - SCR-PD 107(a), and 208(a)
3. Accounts - DC Code 20-721
4. Inventories - DC Code 20-711
5. Guardian Reports - SCR-PD 328
6. Assignments - SCR-PD 120 and 420
7. Claims - DC Code 20-905(a)
8. Affidavits of Mailing and Non-Mailing in Standard Probate - SCR-PD 403(a)(8)
9. Any Affidavit - SCR-CIV 9
10. Verification and Certificate of Notice - SCR-PD 403(b)(3)
No. The final order issued by the Court will specifically identify the assets, authorize release to the personal representative, and direct how distribution is to be made.
Depending on the circumstances, a final order generally issues within 120 days of the filing of a Petition for Administration of Small Estate. If publication is not required and sufficient documentation is filed to verify the amount of the assets of the estate, a final order generally issues within two weeks.
The law requires publication to notify potential creditors when the estate’s assets (real estate and personal property) exceed $1,500.00. However, publication is not required if the heir is the decedent’s spouse or a minor child (under the age of 18) or if the heir is the decedent’s adult child and the estate’s assets are under $11,500.00.