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The Types of Cases Handled by the Probate Division of the Superior Court in Washington, DC



This is Part 2 of our probate series on the probate process in Washington, DC. If you haven’t already read Part 1, check it out for some basic terminology and understanding of what probate is.

In today’s Part 2, we’re talking about the Probate Division of the Superior Court of Washington, DC. The Probate Division is where probate cases are opened. Understanding which type of case to open, using the correct forms, and assembling all the documents needed for the process can be overwhelming.

But stay with us – we’re here to help you understand the process!

The Probate Division oversees five different types of cases, which comprise about two-thirds of their open cases. The five types of cases overseen by the Probate Division are:

Large Estate Proceedings (ADM)

Small Estate Proceedings (SEB)

Foreign Estate Proceedings (FEP)

Wills (WIL)

Disclaimers (DIS)

Pro tip: the three letters in parentheses will help you identify the appropriate forms to use in your case. For example, if you open a small estate proceeding, the forms will be marked SEB on the DC Courts website.

Large Estates:

A large estate case is opened when the decedent owned real estate in the District of Columbia or other assets of any value; to obtain medical records for any reason; or to pursue potential litigation. The decedent must have been domiciled in the District of Columbia at the time of death. If the estate is being opened to collect and transfer assets, the assets must have been owned in the decedent’s name only (that is, the assets must not have joint owners or designated beneficiaries. Letters of administration are issued to the personal representative whose administration of the estate may be supervised by the court or, if the decedent died on or after July 1, 1995, unsupervised.

Large estates are governed by D.C. Code, sec. 20-101 et seq.

Small Estates:

A small estate case may be opened for a person domiciled in the District of Columbia who died after April 26, 2001, with 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. A personal representative will be appointed by the court to marshal assets, pay claims, and make distribution. Letters of administration are not issued in small estate cases. Instead, a final order is issued by the court that specifically identifies the decedent’s assets, authorizes the release of the assets to the personal representative, and directs how distribution, including payment of claims, if any, is to be made. Small estate proceedings generally take no more than 150 days from the date of filing of the petition to the issuance of the final order.

Small estates are governed by D.C. Code, secs. 20-351 through 20-357.

In Part 3, we’ll cover the remaining three types of cases that are filed in the Probate Division.

In the meantime, if you need assistance with a probate matter, call the Gormley Law Office today at 1.240.514.2358 or use the Contact Us feature at the bottom of the page. We’ll help simplify the probate process and bring you peace of mind during a difficult time. Our team is here to help! Call us today!

© 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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