Q: Small Estate Affidavit
My father died 5 months ago and my mother is being told by her bank that she must file a small estate affidavit with the court before they will give her a "gold seal" that she needs to receive earnings from some stock my father owned. She has received conflicting stories from every entity she has dealt with throughout this process, and this sounds incorrect to me because my father and mother jointly owned a home and vehicle, plus had liquid assets in the bank, altogether totaling much more than $50K. From what I have read, a small estate affidavit is for assets valued at less than $50K and does not apply if the deceased owned a home or other real property. But the bank is telling her she MUST have this before they will give her a gold seal on a document that needs to be sent to the stock company. Can you tell me if this is true or not? She has already had to pay for copies of the stock (because she can't find the originals) and this will cost her even more.
A: The assets that are counted for determining whether the estate is under the small estate affidavit limit would NOT include the "jointly" owned house or vehicle, but there is a process that needs to take place to get those retitled.
The personal property and bank accounts of the decedent must add up to less than $50,000 in order to use the small estate process. You don't count the surviving spouse's separate assets in this calculation.
A probate attorney can help you with this.
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