Unfortunately, I get this call many times every day. If the property in the estate does not exceed the value of $75,000, not including the value of a homestead, a court proceeding called a “small estate affidavit” can sometimes be used. However, in most situations, this very simplified proceeding cannot be used. In those situations, there are generally are two options.
- Application for Determination of Heirship (a court proceeding)
- Non-court Involved Affidavit of Heirship
Which of these two options will be best varies with each situation, depending on the types of assets owned and the third parties who will be required to transfer the assets. Some third parties only will accept the court proceeding. Commonly, this could be brokerages and insurance companies. However, many third parties will accept the less expensive Affidavit of Heirship. Even title companies routinely accept an Affidavit of Heirship to transfer title to real estate unless there is a very large amount of money involved.
This is part one of What Do I Do If A Loved One Dies Without A Will? Here I will discuss the more formal application for determination of heirship.