Documents Needed to Open a Small Estate Proceeding in the Probate Division


This is Part 5 in our Probate Series for Washington DC, brought to you by the Gormley Law Office, probate lawyers in Washington, DC. There are four prior segments in this series, so check out this index of our probate series in Washington DC to catch up on anything you missed.

In this post, we’re demystifying the probate process for you with a list of documents you need to open a small estate probate proceeding in Washington, DC.

Remember: a small estate proceeding is for a person who lived in the District of Columbia, died after April 26, 2001, and had assets having a total value of $40,000.00 or less in his or her sole name and/or real estate only in another jurisdiction. (We’ll talk about large estates in a future post, so stay tuned for that.)

So, you’ve determined that you meet the requirements for a priority appointment as a personal representative. Now what?

Gather/prepare/locate/assemble the following list of documents and information:

  • Petition for Administration of Small Estate
  • Decedent’s will (if any) and Certificate of Filing Will
  • Photo identification of the petitioner(s) with signature
  • Death certificate
  • Funeral bill(s) and receipts for funeral or cremation
  • Written list of all assets that the decedent owned or co-owned at death:
  1. All real estate, including real estate located outside the District of Columbia, with the property tax assessed value for the year in which the decedent died.
  2. Current statement(s) for bank and credit union accounts, stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts.
  3. Automobile title (preferable) or registration card and written confirmation of the value of the vehicle. A quote from an on-line source regarding trade-in value is acceptable.
  4. Uncashed checks payable to the decedent.
  5. Letter from the District of Columbia Unclaimed Property Unit (202-442-8181) with value stated.
  6. Names and addresses of heirs-at-law/next of kin and if there is a will, the names and addresses for all legatees named in the will including apartment numbers and zip codes.

When you have these documents assembled, they are filed with the Probate Division, located at the Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Avenue, Washington, DC.

You’ll also need to bring a check or money order payable to the Register of Wills, or cash for court costs, due at the time you open the proceeding. The Court Costs for a Small Estate Proceeding are based on the value of the estate, as follows:

If the value of the estate is:

$0.01 – $499.99…..no cost

$500.00 – $2,500.00…..$15.00

$2,500.01 – $15,000.00…..$50.00

$15,000.01 – $25,000.00…..$100.00

$25,000.01 – $40,000.00…..$150.00

If publication is required, you must pay the newspaper directly.

If you need help with a probate matter in Washington DC, call the Gormley Law Office, a full service probate law firm near Washington, DC. We offer peace of mind for what may be a confusing process! Call us today at 1.240.514.2358, or use the Contact Us feature at the bottom of the page. We’re here to help!

© Copyright Gormley Law Office 2020

Probate, Estate Planning and Real Estate Attorney
Brian Gormley, Esq. is an attorney licensed in Maryland and the District of Columbia specializing in real estate, probate, estate litigation and other matters. If you need assistance, please use the Contact Feature at the bottom of this page.
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