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What are the alternatives to formal probate? - II

In our last post, we began discussing how those who have elected not to execute an estate planning instrument designed to avoid the formal probate administration process still have options. Specifically, we examined disposition without administration, one of two abbreviated alternatives to formal probate.

In today's post, we'll continue this discussion, examining the second of these alternatives: summary administration.

What is summary administration?

Summary administration is a process whereby a person's estate can avoid probate provided the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The deceased passed away over two years ago; or
  • The value of the deceased's assets -- excluding non-probate assets like property held via joint tenancy, assets with designated beneficiaries, etc. -- doesn't exceed $75,000

How does the process work?

Typically, the person who was named to serve as the executor of the estate (i.e., the personal representative) files a "Petition for Summary Administration" with the court 1) indicating why the estate is eligible for this process, 2) outlining the entirety of the deceased's assets, and 3) naming the persons who stand to inherit these assets.

In the event the court grants the petition, no executor will be formally named. Instead, the judge will issue an order calling for the release of the assets to the named beneficiaries. This order, in turn, can be presented by beneficiaries to places like financial institutions as proof that the named funds should be released to them.

Are there any other important points to keep in mind?

Some important points to keep in mind concerning summary administration revolve around the submission of the aforementioned petition. Specifically, if the deceased has a surviving spouse, he or she must sign it, and, in the event one of the designated beneficiaries doesn't sign it, they must be formally served with notice.

Furthermore, those who receive any estate assets should be aware that they will remain liable for any claims against the deceased for up to two years after the date of their passing.

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you would like to learn more about everything from out-of-state probate administration to general estate settlement matters.

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