Information on Filing a Small Estate Affidavit or Opening Probate
If the decedent DID NOT have a Last Will and Testament there are two options, all require either the original death certificate or a copy of the temporary death record from the funeral home:
**You are welcome to drop-off your forms in person, but you may not be able to meet with the probate department without an appointment**
|Option 1) File a Small Estate Affidavit – Certificate of Authorization for small assets is provided.|
This option can be used to appoint an “Authorized Successor” if the assets of the decedent were under $100,000 for real property (homes, land, oil and gas rights) AND under $50,000 for personal property (i.e., bank accounts, anything payable to the estate, automobiles, household goods). See WV Code 44-1A-1.
An heir-at-law can file 60 or more days after death if no other probate has been opened.
The Small Estate Affidavit is a single form that is an appointment of an Authorized Successor, a list of all heirs-at-law, and a list of the small assets of the decedent. It changes title on the real property listed. The Certificate of Authorization that is issued after filing provides access to the specific small assets that are listed.
Use This Form Titled: Small Estate Affidavit Form and Instructions – Intestate (NO Will)
Example of Completed SEA Form And Other Resources:
|Option 2) Open probate – Letters of Administration are provided.|
If the decedent’s assets are over the limit to qualify for the Small Estate Affidavit, probate will be required to change title on real property that was owned in the decedent’s name only, to gain access to accounts just in the decedent’s name, deposit checks made payable to the estate of the decedent, change title on vehicles, etc. See WV Code Chapter 44.
Letters of Administration give a broader authority than the Certificates of Authorization that are issued with a Small Estate Affidavit. For example, if a lawsuit is pending, or if access to medical records is needed, Letters of Administration, and therefore probate, would be required.
There are three parts to probate, 1) opening the probate estate and getting Letters of Administration 2) completing the Appraisement form and advertising for creditors, and 3) filing the settlement and distributing to the heirs-at-law.
Probate takes at the minimum four months, but can take much longer due to many factors.
Use This Form Titled: Opening Probate Forms and Instructions – Intestate (NO Will)
Examples Of Completed Form And Other Resources:
Additional and Miscellaneous Forms: