For some smaller estates, you may not need to go through a regular estate administration process. If the assets are small enough the probate court allows for these small estates to be handled in less time and with less paperwork. Depending on the assets you may be able to go through a “Release from Administration,” a “Summary Release from Administration” or “Real Estate Only.” Collectively these may be called “Release from Administration.”

Which of the three choices is best depends upon the nature of the estate you are trying to administer. The basic requirements are as follows:

  • Release from Administration — There is a surviving spouse and the estate is worth no more than $100,000, or there is no surviving spouse and the estate is worth no more than $35,000.
  • Summary Release from Administration — If someone (typically an heir) has paid funeral and burial expenses of no more than $5,000, then he or she may also claim the assets up to a total of $5,000.
  • Real Estate Only – The decedent died more than six months ago, no creditors have filed claims, and the decedent died owning only real estate. 

The following four requirements must be met for an estate to be Released from Administration.

  • The monetary limits (as stated above) have been met.
  • All the probate assets of the estate are reported on the application filed with the court.
  • All interested parties, including next of kin, beneficiaries under the Will, and creditors, must be given notice of the filing of the application for Release from Administration and any hearing set on the matter.
  • The decedent’s creditors will not be prejudiced by approval of the application.

Unfortunately, the name “Release from Administration” implies the process is very simple. That is not necessarily the case. The forms required can be complicated and may very well require the assistance of an attorney. Do not expect the probate court to assist you in completing these complicated forms. The Court understands that it may be difficult to figure out all this paperwork when you are grieving the passing of a loved one.
Every estate is different and the deputy clerks at the Court will do everything they can to help you through the process, but they cannot give legal advice. Please seek out the assistance of a qualified probate attorney if you need help.