Question 1: What is small estate administration?
An estate is all the property a person leaves behind after he or she dies, and estate administration is the process through which that property is transferred to new owners in accordance with New York law. Probate is the set of laws that governs the estate administration process, and these laws allow for an expedited administration process often known as small estate administration. Through small estate administration the family members of a deceased person can more quickly and easily transfer that person’s property to new owners.
Question 2: What qualifies as a small estate?
New York law says that any estate valued at $30,000 or less qualifies as a small estate. However, that $30,000 amount does not include specific types of property, such as some domestic animals, family pictures and personal items, a personal car, as well as personal computers, electronic devices, musical instruments and other personal items not exceeding the value of $10,000. There are other specific assets that are not covered under the $30,000 limit, so you should speak to a probate lawyer for more details.
Question 3: Is there anything that will disqualify me from using small estate administration?
Yes. If the decedent—the person who has died—owned real estate, that may disqualify you from using the small estate probate procedure. If the person owned property as a joint tenant you can still use small estate probate, but if the decedent owned property only in his or her own name you must go through the formal probate.