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Small Estates – Do You Need to go to Court?

Small Estates – Do You Need to go to Court?

If a person’s estate is small enough, heirs may have an easier time obtaining their inheritance upon the passing of that person. Small estate laws allow heirs to small estates, defined by law, to avoid probate court if the value of the estate falls below a certain monetary threshold. The limits vary somewhat widely from state-to-state, and are frequently changing. Indiana recently amended its laws to raise the limit from $50,000 to $100,000.

A Small Estate Affidavit is a sworn written statement in which an heir asserts that they are, to the best of their knowledge, entitled to their share of the estate. An heir may present a Small Estate Affidavit regardless of whether the deceased person wrote a will or not. Generally, if a person passes away with a will, the will should be filed with the court of the county in which the person resided during life in order to “spread the will” which simply puts creditors and heirs on notice of the death of that person. When the Small Estate Affidavit is produced to an institution or person holding assets, the assets may be distributed to the heirs according to the Small Estate Affidavit.

Small estates laws change frequently and vary from state-to-state. An experienced attorney can help you determine if an estate to which you are an heir qualifies as a small estate, and help you take advantage of the opportunities small estate laws may give you to obtain your inheritance more easily. If you have questions, please contact the Indiana elder law attorneys at McNeelyLaw LLP.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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