Probate can be a lengthy, stressful, and costly procedure for transferring property to a decedent’s heirs. A small estate affidavit can be a more affordable and easier method to transfer property in Texas.
A SEA is permissible for inheritances when certain conditions are met. These include:
- The person who died, the decedent, did not have a will.
- The decedent left less than $75,000 which does not include homestead and exempt property.
- The assets are worth more than the debts. Mortgages or debts secured by exempt property are considered debts while homestead and exempt property are not assets.
- The decedent’s homestead estate was the only real property owned by the decedent and the real property will be inherited by their surviving spouse and minor children.
- All legal heirs signed the small estate affidavit.
- The court did not appoint a personal representative for the estate and no application is pending.
- No needed administration.
A homestead is owned by an individual. It is where they live and includes a separate, stand-alone structure, condominium or manufactured or mobile home.
Homesteads can be located on owned or leased land if that person lives in the home and uses the land as a residence. It may also include up to 20 acres of land if the person lives in the home and uses the land as a residence.
Exempt property that is not counted as part of the estate includes:
- The homestead for the use of the decedent’s surviving spouse and minor children.
- The decedent’s pension benefits, IRAs and insurance benefits.
- Some of the following property valued up to $100,000 for a family or $50,000 for a single adult for the use and benefit of the surviving spouse and minor children, unmarried adult children staying with the decedent’s family and adult children who are incapacitated:
- Home furnishings and family heirlooms.
- Provisions for consumption.
- Farming and ranching vehicles and tools.
- Tools, equipment, books, boats, and vehicles used for traded or professions.
- Some jewelry.
- Two firearms.
- Athletic, sporting equipment and bicycles.
- A two-wheeled, three-wheeled, or four-wheeled vehicle for each family member or single adult holding a driver’s license.
- Certain livestock and food for their consumption.
When a person dies without a will or intestate in Texas, their heirs are entitled to the property in that estate determined by a legal calculation. A court names heirs under the law. Heirs may include the decedent’s surviving spouse and children and their descendants, brothers and sisters and their descendants, grandparents and their descendants and other relatives.
Attorneys can prepare a plan that meets a family’s needs. They can also assist heirs.