D.C. Probate Shortcuts for Small Estates

Simplified small estate probate procedures in D.C. save executors money.

The District of Columbia (D.C.) offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." This makes it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using the following probate shortcut -- saving time, money, and hassle.

Simplified Probate Procedure

D.C. has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an executor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.

You can use the simplified small estate process in the District of Columbia if property subject to administration in D.C. has a value of $40,000 or less. (D.C. Code Ann. § § 20-351 and following)

The person named as the executor in the will or the person who wants the court to appoint them as the personal representative files a document with the court. This document must state the following:

  • the personal representative has tried to identify all of the deceased person’s property and debts
  • the name of all known creditors and the amount the deceased person owed each one, and
  • a list of any cases the deceased person was involved in. D.C. Code Ann. § 20-352.

The personal representative can then pay funeral expenses up to $1,500. If there are still estate assets after paying the funeral expenses, the personal representative must publish a notice in a newspaper published in the county where the deceased person lived at least once a week for three weeks that states his or her appointment and the deceased person’s death. Creditors have 30 days from the publication of this notice to submit claims. D.C. Code Ann. § § 20-353, 20-906, and 20-704.

The personal representative gives proof to the court that he or she gave the required notice and a list of all claims against the estate. The court can then order the personal representative to pay all valid claims and to give the remaining assets to the inheritors. D.C. Code Ann. § 20-354

For More Information

For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of these probate shortcuts, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo), or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).

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