Probate and Expediting the Probate Process
Probate is a legal procedure that settles the estate of a deceased person. All of his or her debts are settled and then the properties are distributed to the heirs. Probate commonly takes longer to finish unless the estate's value is small, such as $100,000 and below. Depending on the state, probate procedure may be expedited so that instead of two years, it takes only a few months to complete. This process is not expensive so anybody can expedite the probate process.
The expedited probate process in Florida, USA
In Florida, this process is called Summary Administration. If the whole estate is at most $75,000 or if the decedent has been dead for at least two years. The decedent needed no Will for this process to be expedited.
The basic stages in expediting the probate process through Summary Administration in Florida are as follows.
1. If there is no Will, the beneficiaries will sign a petition swearing under oath that they have not known of any Will, nor debts and they know only of the assets listed. The petition will explain how the assets of the decedent should be divided.
2. The lawyer files for the Petition for Summary Administration. He or she also submits a copy of the funeral bill receipt and an affidavit by an acquaintance. It may state that the decedent didn't usually accrue significant debt. The documents are filed with the Clerk of Court.
3. The attorney requests the Judge for an order for the decedent's Will (if there is any) to be the last Will and to direct the asset distribution as stated in the petition.
4. The Judge signs and the Clerk releases an Order of Summary Administration which will approve the distribution of the assets according to the petition.
5. The Order serves as a deed. It officially transfers ownership of the properties of the decedent to the beneficiaries.
Other U.S. states
In other states, the expediting process may be termed differently and each state's definition is different from the others. While some may be simple, others may be complicated.
In California, expediting may be allowed for estates until $100,000. In NY, property that can legally be distributed to surviving family members must not be more than $20,000. In Texas, the property value should not exceed the amount to pay a family allowance and some creditors.
Missouri estates that are applicable are those under $40,000 excluding insurance, jointly-owned assets, homes with designated beneficiaries, payable on death accounts and debt and mortgages. Connecticut allows for probate expedition for estates worth $20,000 and below while Michigan estates that are worth $18,000 or less.
Some states don't need a lawyer to file for expediting the process of a small estate. The beneficiaries get forms from the court and do it on their own. However, a probate attorney is still recommended to ensure that all the documents and processes comply with the state laws that you are in. Only a local probate court attorney will know the laws that pertain to you in terms of cases like this.