Probate court is known for being stressful, costly, and time-consuming. In some states, there are ways for small estates to manage a limited form of probate or even avoid the probate process completely. If you’re interested in the benefits of avoiding probate, a probate-proof estate plan can be created with the assistance of an Omaha estate planning attorney.
What Is Probate, and Why Do You Want to Avoid It?
If an individual dies with a will but no trust or without any estate plan at all, their estate passes into the jurisdiction of the state. This is probate court, where the state will review, value, distribute, and settle the estate. If the individual had a will, the probate court will determine if it is valid. If the court decides it is, it will pass the estate to the authority of the named executor, who is then in charge of distributing the estate according to the deceased individual’s wishes.
If the individual had no will at all, or their will is considered invalid, then the probate court will appoint an executor for the estate, who will distribute it according to the state’s succession laws.
Probate is a costly, long, and stressful process. For loved ones and heirs who have just lost someone, it can be a frustrating experience. Nebraska has an inheritance tax, and certain estates may be subject to a federal estate tax.
Additionally, there will be court costs and fees during the probate process. This can significantly cut into the benefits that heirs see from their loved one’s estate. Heirs also cannot access the assets in an estate until probate is complete, which can take months to years.
There are some ways that surviving family members can avoid the process of probate, even when the deceased did not have a complete estate plan. If a loved one passes away with an estate that meets certain criteria, loved ones can bypass probate.
What Are Small Estate Affidavits?
A small estate affidavit enables certain surviving family members to settle their loved one’s estate outside of probate court if it is a small estate. A small estate affidavit may also be possible if the deceased person placed most of their estate into trusts, but there is some property left outside of trusts. A small estate affidavit allows a faster and less costly process of settling the estate.
How Does an Estate Qualify for a Small Estate Affidavit?
In Nebraska, an estate qualifies for a small estate affidavit if its real estate property does not value over $50,000 and/or its personal property does not value over $100,000. These limits depend on the “probatable” property in the estate.
Who Can File a Small Estate Affidavit?
In Nebraska, only those with a stake in the estate can file a small estate affidavit. If the deceased had a will, only the heirs listed in the will can file a small estate affidavit for the property they inherited.
If the deceased did not have a will, then family members who receive property according to intestate succession laws can file for a small estate affidavit. These include a spouse, legally registered domestic partner, children, guardian of children, and parents. Family members can only file a small estate affidavit if they received property under the succession laws.
What Are the Benefits of a Small Estate Affidavit?
Avoiding probate can save heirs thousands of dollars in court costs. The only expense for an affidavit is the fee for the form itself, which could even be waived in some cases. Heirs also save a lot of time. Rather than spending months in probate court, a small estate affidavit can be approved in weeks or even days.
Q: What Is a Small Estate Affidavit in Nebraska?
A: A small estate affidavit in Nebraska is a way that surviving family members of the deceased can avoid probate court if the estate meets certain criteria. If the deceased’s personal and real property is under the set state amounts, their family can use a small estate affidavit to keep the estate out of probate, settling the estate more quickly and at less cost.
The monetary limits for a small estate affidavit depend on what assets are probatable. If assets are in a trust or are directly provided to beneficiaries, they may not count as probatable property.
Q: What Is the Small Estate Limit in Nebraska?
A: In order to qualify for a small estate affidavit, a deceased person’s estate must have $50,000 or less in probatable real estate property and $100,000 or less in probatable personal property. A small estate affidavit enables an estate to avoid probate.
Nebraska also has summary administration, which is a form of simplified probate for small estates. Although it does not allow the estate to avoid probate completely like a small estate affidavit, it is still faster and less expensive than formal probate. An estate may qualify for summary administration if the value of the estate does not exceed the value of homestead allowance, exempt property, the expenses of administration, funeral expenses, family allowance, and other expenses.
Q: How Do I File a Small Estate Affidavit in Nebraska?
A: To file an affidavit, you must sign a document under oath in the presence of a notary. Both real estate property and personal property have different affidavits. The affidavit for the transfer of personal property, once signed, is presented to the individual, bank, company, or organization that holds the personal property, along with a death certificate.
For real estate property, the affidavit must be filed with the register of deeds office in whatever county the property is located.
Q: How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Nebraska?
A: Any estate that does not have comprehensive estate planning will enter probate unless the estate qualifies for a small estate affidavit. This threshold is $50,000 in real estate property and/or $100,000 in personal property.
If an estate is over this threshold and does not have trusts or other estate planning tools, it will enter probate. A small estate will not automatically avoid probate. Surviving family members must file for the affidavit 30 days after the individual’s death.
Protect Your Estate with Stange Law Firm
A small estate affidavit can be incredibly useful for loved ones who want to avoid probate. Effective estate planning is a fantastic tool for avoiding the probate process. To begin planning your comprehensive estate plan and help protect your loved ones after your death, contact Stange Law Firm.