When a person dies, his property must go through probate proceedings before it can be passed on to named beneficiaries. Probate is typically a long and expensive process, and in some cases, it does not make sense to make heirs wait before inheriting a relative’s property. This is why state law allows some smaller estates to be exempt from probate in Rhode Island.
What Are Rhode Island’s Small Estate Laws?
If a person dies with less than $15,000 of personal property, probate may be shortened under the "small estate" provision. The executor of the estate will have to file the necessary forms with the probate court, but the waiting time for the closure of these estates is typically much shorter and far less costly.
In order to close a small estate, an executor must:
- Complete a schedule of all known assets and the estimated value of each one
- File the decedent’s original will with the probate court
- Present the deceased’s death certificate to the clerk of the probate court
- Pay applicable filing fees
- Make payments from the estate to creditors
- Pay any necessary final medical and funeral expenses using estate funds
- Distribute the remaining assets according to the terms of the will
The person who is named an executor should be willing and able to discharge all necessary duties that are required to close the estate. If an executor does not perform these duties to the letter of the law, family members may hold the executor liable for mishandling the estate.
Even when the estate is small, probate proceedings can be frustrating and an arduous process. The best way to avoid unnecessary costs and confusion is to enlist the help of an estate planning and probate attorney. Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you protect your assets and avoid going through probate in Rhode Island by retitling your assets and creating a living trust. Simply fill out our online contact form today to set up your initial consultation.