Probate Shortcuts in Indiana

Save time and money when you wrap up an estate in Indiana.

Updated by , Attorney

Indiana offers some probate shortcuts for "small estates." These procedures make 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 simplified probate procedures or without any probate court proceedings at allby using an affidavit. And that saves time, money, and hassle.

Here are the ways you can skip or speed up probate. (If the affidavit procedure is used, there's no need to use the simplified probate procedure.)

Claiming Property With a Small Estate Affidavit

Indiana has a procedure that allows inheritors to skip probate altogether when the value of all the assets left behind is less than a certain amount. All an inheritor has to do is prepare a short document, stating that the inheritor is entitled to a certain asset. This document, signed under oath, is known as a small estate affidavit. When the person or institution holding the property—for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account—gets the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, it releases the asset.

The out-of-court affidavit procedure is available in Indiana if the value of the gross probate estate, less liens and encumbrances and reasonable funeral expenses, does not exceed $50,000. After a 45-day waiting period (Ind. Code § 29-1-8-1), the inheritor can submit Indiana's Small Estate Affidavit (Form 54985). The inheritor must also notify all other inheritors of the plans to submit this affidavit to the court.

This process can be used for actions such as:

  • changing the title of a vehicle to the inheritor's name
  • changing the registered owner's name for a security (like a stock or bond)
  • getting a death benefit from an insurance company and to get property stored in a safe deposit box.

Simplified Probate in Indiana: Administration Without Court Supervision

If the estate property exceeds $50,000 in value, probate procedures are necessary. However, Indiana does offer a simplified version of probate, known as administration without court supervision (or unsupervised administration), which is available to many estates. It requires very minimal court supervision, and if you use this simplified procedure, you can skip some steps of regular probate.

To qualify:

  • If there is a will, it must not have required supervised probate
  • the estate must be solvent (meaning it cannot owe more money than it has), and
  • all beneficiaries (if there is a will) or heirs (if there is no will) must consent in writing to the unsupervised administration OR the will specifically authorizes unsupervised administration.

(Ind. Code Ann. § 29-1-7.5-2.)

Administration without court supervision is the most common type of probate procedure in Indiana. If the estate doesn't qualify for this simplified procedure or is particularly complicated, a fully supervised probate procedure will be required, and this process will be more cumbersome, lengthy, and expensive.

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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