Not all estates need to go through the probate process, and not all estates need to be written as trusts.
For many individuals who do not own a significant amount of property, the small estate procedure will assist heirs in resolving outstanding estate issues.
The Purpose of Small Estates
Small Estate procedures were created to assist heirs in obtaining the deceased’s property and assets without the lengthy process of probate.
Small estates can also be done relatively quickly while keeping both time and costs low, both of which appeal to those involved.
Small estates can be completed through affidavits executed by either the spouse or heirs of the deceased. They give the affidavit to the holders of the deceased property to get the property.
In certain states, you must present the affidavit to the Court first before going after the property.
In Utah, if the value of the entire probate estate does not exceed $100,000, the estate is considered a “small estate,” and it can be closed within thirty days after the death.
Determining the Value of the Estate
Small estate procedures can happen with or without the will.
All that matters is the total value of the property involved in the estate. To determine the value of the estate, it is recommended you make a list of all of the deceased’s assets.
Come with an accurate value as best you can with respect to the various assets, and if you are unclear on certain line items, attempt to get an appraised value.
Certain assets are not included in this list, including property in joint tenancy, retirement plans, payable-on-death (POD) accounts, real estate transferred through a transfer-on-death deed, or a transfer-on-death brokerage account. Life insurance proceeds are similarly excluded from the list of assets.
The Small Estate Affidavit
The spouse or heirs need to file out a simple affidavit and wait for a 30-day period before distributing the assets.
The small affidavit can be used to collect property, except real property, if the deceased living in Utah at the time of death or his property was located in Utah; the person signing the affidavit is a surviving spouse, child or heir of the deceased, or if this individual is named as a beneficiary in the will; the person who signs the affidavit is entitled to receive the deceased’s property, 30 days have passed since the death of the decedent; no one else is appointed or is seeking to be appointed as personal representative in any state; and the deceased’s estate value is not more than $100,000.
Small estates can be subject to a summary administrative procedure.
If, after look at all property and appraising the value of the estate, minus lines and encumbrances, it does not exceed the homestead allowance, exempt property, family allowance, costs and expenses of administration, reasonable funeral expenses and any medical and hospital costs of the deceased’s last illness, the personal representative can distribute the assets without giving notice to creditors.
The personal representative then files a sworn closing statement with the court stating the nature and value of the estate assets, the value of the estate, any debts that were outstanding as part of the estate, and a statement that the personal representative has fully administered the estate, paying off needed debts and disbursing the assets. A closing statement needs to be given to all beneficiaries and creditors showing that their claim has been satisfied in full.
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