Rhode Island estate law provides a shortcut in the probate process for smaller estates. It is a simplified probate process that allows for an easier transfer of property to the heirs of a person who has died. If an estate qualifies as a “small estate,” a form can be filed and the assets of the estate will be distributed without the need of going before a probate judge. The executor of the estate can file the form, a written request, with the local probate court asking that the estate goes through the simplified probate process. It is a valuable exception to take advantage of as the full probate process can be time consuming and complicated. Make sure you have all of the information you need to see whether an estate may fall into the small estate category and consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to double check calculations.
What Qualifies as a Small Estate for Simplified Probate?
Whether there was a will or there wasn’t a will, the focus of whether of an estate will qualify for the simplified probate process entirely depends on the size of the estate. If an estate does not include real estate and the value of the property in the estate that would be subject to probate is $15,000 or less, then the estate will qualify. It is important to note that the calculation will not include property that would not be subject to probate. You see, not all property of a deceased individual would have to go through the probate process. Some assets pass outside of probate. These assets include:
- Assets held in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety with rights of survivorship
- Life insurance policy proceeds
- Retirement accounts
- Payable or Transfer on death accounts (such as bank or brokerage accounts)
All of these assets will pass directly to the named beneficiary or the surviving co-owner of the property. Because the assets would pass outside of probate proceedings, they do not count for purposes of calculating whether an estate will qualify for the small estate simplified probate procedure. Assets that would be subject to probate proceedings need to be valued and then the values would be added up to see if the total estate value is $15,000 or less.
Estate Planning Legal Counsel You Can Count On
The small estate exception allowing for a simplified probate process is valuable. Many will tell you that the ability to avoid probate is a gift in and of itself. If you have questions about whether an estate may or may not qualify for the simplified probate process, contact trusted Rhode Island estate planning attorneys at Palumbo Law. We are here to make sure you and your loved ones reap the full benefits of estate planning. Contact the Palumbo Law today.