If a decedent dies without leaving any will and his estate is less than $50,000 in value, your Texas probate attorney will likely recommend filing a small estate affidavit.
Texas small estate laws were enacted in order to allow a decedent’s heirs to obtain the decedent’s property without the formalities of probate, or through a shorter probate proceeding.
Administration of a Texas small estate can be done with less expense and in a shorter period of time. A Texas small estate affidavit is ideal for a small estate when there is no will.
When Can a Texas Small Estate Affidavit be Filed?
A Texas small estate affidavit can be filed under the following conditions:
- The decedent has died without leaving a will.
- There is no petition for personal representatives, either pending or granted.
- A period of 30 days has passed since the death of the decedent.
- The value of the entire estate is not greater than $50,000. This does not include Homestead and exempt property. Exempt property is that property that cannot be seized to pay debts under Texas law.
- Two disinterested witnesses have filed a sworn affidavit affirming heirship.
A Texas small affidavit cannot be used when the decedent has left behind a valid will. It also cannot be used when the decedent owned non-homestead real property. A Texas small estate affidavit must include details like the assets and liabilities of the estate, the names of all the distributees, their relationship to the deceased and other relevant facts.
If you have reason to believe that an estate may qualify for a small estate affidavit, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Texas probate attorney to determine whether the estate is indeed eligible for this affidavit. Sometimes, an estate may seem to qualify for a small estate affidavit, but after calculation of gross assets, the estate might exceed the amount allowed by law. These additional assets may include life insurance annuities, community property with right of survivorship, and payable on death property.
A small estate affidavit can be an uncomplicated and easy way to transfer property, but it’s important to consult with a Texas probate lawyer to determine if the estate is eligible under these laws.