Wills and Estates – Small Estates – Vermont
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.
Under Vermont statute, when an application has be made to the judge of probate for the appointment of an administrator or executor of an estate, that application may request that the estate be dealt with as a small estate of less than $10,000 in value. If the judge finds that the burial expenses have been paid, the court may forthwith discharge such executor without further accounting and without notice.
Vermont requirements are set forth in the statutes below.
CHAPTER 081: SMALL ESTATES
§ 1901. Filing inventory and bond conditioned upon payment of funeral expense with petition
When application is made to the judge of probate for the appointment of an administrator or executor of an estate, there may accompany the petition the following:
(1) A true and complete inventory of the estate of the deceased, appraised under oath at its true cash value;
(2) A receipt showing that the funeral expenses of the deceased have been paid, or a personal bond in an amount determined by the judge of probate to be reasonable, conditioned for the payment of the funeral expenses of the deceased, within one year from the date of death; and
(3) The will, if any. (Amended 1975, No. 240 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2009, No. 75 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 1902. Letters of administration, small estates, notice
(a) Upon receiving and filing such petition, the judge of probate may make such investigation of the circumstances of the case and the facts set forth in the petition, as he or she deems proper and necessary.
(b) The Court may grant administration of the estate to the petitioner or some other suitable person forthwith without further notice, and may issue letters of administration to the administrator or letters testamentary to the executor without requiring further bonds, if from the petition and the investigation it appears to the satisfaction of the Court that:
(1)(A) the deceased left a surviving spouse or children of any age, or both; or
(B) the deceased left a surviving parent or parents but no spouse or child;
(2) the deceased died seized of no real estate other than a time-share estate as defined by 32 V.S.A. § 3619(a); and
(3) the personal estate of the deceased, appraised at its true cash value as of the date of death, amounts to not more than the sum of $10,000.00.
(Added 1975, No. 240 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; amended 1981, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2009, No. 75 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2013, No. 102 (Adj. Sess.), § 5.)
§ 1903. Same; discharge upon payment of funeral expenses; residue
(a) In intestate estates whenever it shall appear to the satisfaction of the judge of probate that an administrator appointed under sections 1901 and 1902 of this title has paid or caused to be paid the funeral and burial expenses of said deceased, and has paid over all the balance and residue of said estate in accordance with the provisions of chapter 42 of this title, the court may forthwith discharge the administrator without further accounting and without notice.
(b) In testate estates, whenever it shall appear to the satisfaction of the judge of probate that an executor has paid or caused to be paid the funeral and burial expenses of the deceased and has paid over the remaining property in accordance with the terms of the will unless waived, and in that event in accordance with law, the court may forthwith discharge such executor without further accounting and without notice.
(c) If a discharge is given under this section, any assets distributed by the executor or administrator shall be subject to claims later established, and sections 1202 and 1203 of this title shall apply, but the executors or administrators shall not be liable to distributees for losses to them when required to reimburse creditors.
(Added 1975, No. 240 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; amended 1981, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2009, No. 75 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)