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Is a small estate affidavit an option for me?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Estate Planning

The death of a loved one can be a major setback regardless of whether someone was ill for a long time before their passing or their death was sudden, possibly due to a motor vehicle collision. The people closest to someone who died in Texas have to consider probate matters.

The property that belonged to someone before they died becomes their estate after their passing. Their financial responsibilities typically also pass to their estate. The Texas probate courts play a role in estate administration by overseeing the process. The courts ensure compliance with the law and with valid estate planning documents.

Full probate proceedings can take a year or longer to complete in many cases. They can also increase the expense involved in estate administration. Some estates are eligible for more rapid administration. People can file a small estate affidavit allowing them to largely streamline the probate process.

How can someone determine whether or not their situation might qualify for a small estate affidavit?

A review of the estate plan

Typically, families prefer to have a will or other estate planning documents to guide probate matters. However, those hoping to file a small estate affidavit in Texas may celebrate when they don’t locate a will. Generally, only estates without valid wills qualify as small estates.

A review of the estate’s resources

The total value of the estate is one of the most important considerations when trying to establish eligibility for a small estate affidavit. In general, the total value of all the assets in the estate must be less than $75,000 to qualify. If someone has a small business in their name, large financial accounts or extensive personal property, the total value of resources might make the estate ineligible for a small estate affidavit. Other times, the specific assets included in the estate affect eligibility. Real estate of any type typically requires full probate court proceedings instead of a small estate affidavit.

A review of estate obligations

The value and type of resources in the estate are not the only considerations when determining whether someone may be able to file a small estate affidavit for the estate of a deceased family member. The financial obligations of the deceased are also an important factor. Generally, the estate needs to have enough assets to fully repay all valid debts to qualify for a small estate affidavit. In a scenario in which there may be outstanding debts after the liquidation of estate assets, full probate oversight may be necessary.

Learning more about the different probate options in Texas can benefit those who expect to administer or inherit from the estate of someone who has recently died.