District of Columbia Small Estates General Summary Law

Wills and Estates – Small Estates – District of Columbia

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Small Estates General Summary: Small Estate laws were enacted in order to enable heirs to obtain property of the deceased without probate, or with shortened probate proceedings, provided certain conditions are met. Small estates can be administered with less time and cost. If the deceased had conveyed most property to a trust but there remains some property, small estate laws may also be available. Small Estate procedures may generally be used regardless of whether there was a Will. In general, the two forms of small estate procedures are recognized:

1. Small Estate Affidavit -Some States allow an affidavit to be executed by the spouse and/or heirs of the deceased and present the affidavit to the holder of property such as a bank to obtain property of the deceased. Other states require that the affidavit be filed with the Court. The main requirement before you may use an affidavit is that the value of the personal and/or real property of the estate not exceed a certain value.

2. Summary Administration -Some states allow a Summary administration. Some States recognize both the Small Estate affidavit and Summary Administration, basing the requirement of which one to use on the value of the estate. Example: If the estate value is 10,000 or less an affidavit is allowed but if the value is between 10,000 to 20,000 a summary administration is allowed.

District of Columbia:
Under District of Columbia statute, where as estate is valued at not more than $40,000, an interested party may forgo the opening of a regular estate and instead file a verified petition to administer a small estate. Upon approval of the petition by the court, the court may issue an order appointing an administrator of the estate and ordering the distribution of the assets of the estate. Please see below statute for details.

District of Columbia Requirements:
District of Columbia requirements are set forth in the statutes below.

§ 20-351. General.

If the property of a decedent subject to administration in the District of Columbia has a value of $ 40,000 or less, the property may be administered as a small estate in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter.

§ 20-352. Petition.

Any person eligible for appointment as the personal representative of an estate pursuant to section 20-303 may file a verified petition for administration of a small estate. Such petition shall contain, in addition to the information required by section 20-304:

(a) A statement that the petitioner has made a diligent search to discover all property and debts of the decedent;

(b) A list of the known creditors of the decedent, with the amount of each claim, including contingent and disputed claim; and

(c) A statement of any legal proceedings pending in which the decedent was a party.

§ 20-353. Proceedings after petition.

(a) Determinations on petition. — If the Court finds that the petition and any additional information filed under this subchapter is accurate, it shall:

(1) appoint a personal representative of the small estate;

(2) direct the immediate payment of the allowable funeral expenses as provided in section 20-906 and the family allowance as provided in section 19-101 [repealed];

(3) direct the sale of property as may be necessary to satisfy funeral expenses and the family allowance; and

(4) if it appears that there will be any property remaining after payment of funeral expenses and there is no family allowance payable, admit the will, if any, to probate and direct that notice be given in accordance with subsection (b).

(b) Notice. — If the Court directs that notice be given, notice shall be given once in the form required by section 20-704; except, that the period within which claims must be filed or objection must be made to contest the validity of the will or the small estates proceeding or the appointment of the personal representative shall be 30 days from the date of publication of notice.

§ 20-354. Duties of personal representatives.

(a) Attorney; bond; compensation. — No person appointed as a personal representative in accordance with section 20-353 shall be required to be represented by an attorney or to give bond or be entitled to receive any commission for the performance of duties as personal representative.

(b) Distribution. — If notice is required and 30 days have expired since the publication of notice as provided in section 20-353(b), the personal representative shall file proof of publication of the notice and a verified list of all claims, including contingent and disputed claims, and the amount of the claims filed since the original petition. The Court shall hear any objections filed pursuant to the notice and, if satisfied that all action taken pursuant to this subchapter is proper, shall direct the personal representative to pay all proper claims and expenses and to distribute the net estate either in accordance with the will or, if the decedent died intestate, to the decedent’s heirs.

§ 20-355. After-discovered property.

The personal representative shall report to the Court immediately, by verified supplemental petition, any property of the decedent discovered after the filing of the petition. If the after-discovered property increases the value of all property of the decedent to an amount greater than the allowable funeral expenses (and there is no family allowance payable) but less than $ 15,000, the Court shall admit the will, if any, to probate and direct that notice be given in accordance with section 20-353(b). If the after-discovered property increases the value of all property of the decedent to more than $ 15,000, there shall be no further proceedings under this subchapter, and administration shall proceed under the other provisions of this title.

§ 20-356. Applicability of other provisions of title.

Except to the extent inconsistent with this subchapter, all the other provisions of this title shall apply to small estates.


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Inside District of Columbia Small Estates General Summary Law