Small Estates - Transfer of Propery Without Probate
In Indiana, for smaller estates where the total of the assets does not exceed the sum of $50,000.00, there is a “short-cut” procedure for transferring real estate and other property and assets, without opening a case in court. The Indiana Small Estate statutes allow a person who is interested in the estate to sign an Affidavit for Transfer which must contain certain statements about the deceased person and their estate and heirs. This Affidavit is available 45 days after the death.
One of the statements in this Affidavit for Transfer is an affirmation that the individual signing the Affidavit has contacted all of the distributees or beneficiaries entitled to a share of the property of that decedent's estate. This puts those distributees and beneficiaries on notice that a request has been made to transfer an asset to the person signing the affidavit.
The effect of this signed Affidavit for Transfer is that the person signing then takes on the responsibility to use that asset according to law, which generally means for the purpose of paying any debts and obligation of the decedent or their final expenses, and thereafter distributing any remaining sums to the heirs and beneficiaries who are entitled to share in that decedent's estate. Failure of the person signing the Affidavit to follow the law makes them subject to claims of the decedent's creditors, as well as the heirs and beneficiaries, to the extent that the property or assets were not used properly.
The law also provides protection for instituations or persons holding assets of the decedent. When a signed Affidavit for Transfer is presented, a bank or other person or institution who is holding the asset or property may turn it over without being responsible (liable under the law) for determining that the asset is being used for the proper legal purposes by the person who has signed the Affidavit.
The Small Estate statutes require specific procedures, but when properly followed, will allow eligible estates to avoid the court system. Managing the estate of a loved one does not have to be a difficult process, but you should speak with a lawyer to ensure that it's done correctly.
Atz Law Office LLC is an Indiana law firm and all information contained in this article is based solely upon Indiana law. This article is meant to be informational only and is not legal advice. Please consult an attorney for assistance with your legal matter.