Click Fraud Protection

Probate In The District of Columbia

  • By Antonlegal 14 October, 2016 no comments.

When a person in the District of Columbia wishes to open and disburse a probate estate they must follow the steps and procedures set forth in the District of Columbia Code Title 20, §§ 100 – 1305 and summarized below.

First, the interested party must file a petition for probate with the probate court. Interested parties include heirs, creditors, any person named in the will to be a personal representative or any legatee. A probate proceeding in the District of Columbia may be standard, abbreviated or small estate proceeding. The petitioner may request one of these in the petition.

ABBREVIATED PROCEEDING

An abbreviated proceeding is instituted when an interested party files a petition for an abbreviated proceeding. This proceeding may be conducted without the prior notice to all interested parties required for standard probate proceedings. However, an abbreviated probate proceeding shall be set aside if, within six months after notice of the appointment of the personal representative, an interested person makes a request for a standard proceeding. Due execution of a will is presumed under the abbreviated proceeding and need not be proven.

The petition for probate in an abbreviated proceeding shall contain all knowledge and information which the petitioner may have with respect to the (a) name, domicile, place and date of death of the decedent; (b) petitioner’s name, address, age, citizenship, relation to decedent, interest in the estate and any legal disability; (c) facts necessary to confer jurisdiction upon the court; (d) any other proceeding filed elsewhere regarding the deceased’s estate; (e) character, location and estimated value of decedent’s real and personal property and total estimated debts and funeral expenses of decedent; (f) names and addresses of all interested persons, names of all persons witnesses to any will; (g) whether the decedent dies intestate or testate; (h) if the decedent died intestate, the petition must state that a diligent search for a will was made; (i) if the decedent died testate, the petition must include, as an exhibit, the original will or a copy of it, if the will has already been filed. Additionally, the petition must state whether petitioner knows of a later will and how petitioner obtained the original will; (j) The petition must explain any lack of information; (k) the petition must request that this be an abbreviated proceeding; (l) finally, the petition must request court action to admit to probate any will exhibited, order directing witnesses to the will to appear and give testimony, order requiring person to have custody of will to deliver it to the court, order directing interested parties to show cause why provisions of any lost or destroyed will should not be admitted to probate, finding that decedent died intestate and a request for appointment of supervised personal representative, if the requirements are met, and supervision is desired or the appointment of an unsupervised personal representative.

The court will appoint a personal representative according to the following order of priority and the court may deviate from this order as it sees fit: First, the court will appoint the personal representative named in the will. If that person is unavailable or not named in the will, the court may appoint a surviving spouse or children. If they are unavailable, the court will appoint any residuary legatees, children of testate decedent, grandchildren of decedent, parents of decedent, brothers or sisters of decedent. Finally if there are no relatives available, the court will appoint the largest creditor of the deceased’s.

Any person may file a complaint to contest the validity of a will within six months following notice by publication of the appointment of a personal representative.

STANDARD PROCEEDING

A standard proceeding is instituted when an interested person files a petition for a standard proceeding. This proceeding is conducted after notice is given to all known interested parties and petitioner has published a notice once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation. Due execution of a will is not presumed in a standard proceeding and may be proven by affidavit of the witnesses. After proof of due execution, the court shall enter an order admitting the will to probate or determining that the decedent died intestate. At this time, the court shall also appoint or reappoint one or more personal representatives, may order that the administration be supervised, and if appropriate, revoke, modify, or confirm any action taken at any prior abbreviated probate, small estates or standard proceeding. The correct format for an affidavit of due execution is provided in DC Code § 20-324. A standard probate proceeding may be reopened if, within six months after the notice of appointment of a personal representative an interested person makes a request and the Court finds that the notice was not given to such interested person and such interested person did not have notice of the petition for probate; there was material mistake in the prior proceeding; or the proponent of a later will was actually unaware of such will’s existence at the time of the prior probate proceeding.

The petition for probate in a standard proceeding shall contain all knowledge and information which the petitioner may have with respect to the (a) name, domicile, place and date of death of the decedent; (b) petitioner’s name, address, age, citizenship, relation to decedent, interest in the estate and any legal disability; (c) facts necessary to confer jurisdiction upon the court; (d) any other proceeding filed elsewhere regarding the deceased’s estate; (e) character, location and estimated value of decedent’s real and personal property and total estimated debts and funeral expenses of decedent; (f) names and addresses of all interested persons, names of all persons witnesses to any will; (g) whether the decedent dies intestate or testate; (h) if the decedent died intestate, the petition must state that a diligent search for a will was made; (i) if the decedent died testate, the petition must include, as an exhibit, the original will or a copy of it, if the will has already been filed. Additionally, the petition must state whether petitioner knows of a later will and how petitioner obtained the original will; (j) The petition must explain any lack of information; (k) the petition must request that this be a standard proceeding; (l) finally, the petition must request court action to admit to probate any will exhibited, order directing witnesses to the will to appear and give testimony, order requiring person to have custody of will to deliver it to the court, order directing interested parties to show cause why provisions of any lost or destroyed will should not be admitted to probate, finding that decedent died intestate and a request for appointment of supervised personal representative, if the requirements are met, and supervision is desired or the appointment of an unsupervised personal representative.

The court will appoint a personal representative according to the following order of priority and the court may deviate from this order as it sees fit: First, the court will appoint the personal representative named in the will. If that person is unavailable or not named in the will, the court may appoint a surviving spouse or children. If they are unavailable, the court will appoint any residuary legatees, children of testate decedent, grandchildren of decedent, parents of decedent, brothers or sisters of decedent. Finally if there are no relatives available, the court will appoint the largest creditor of the deceased’s.

Any person may file a complaint to contest the validity of a will within six months following notice by publication of the appointment of a personal representative

SMALL ESTATES PROCEEDING

A small estates proceeding may be instituted when the decedent’s property has a value of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00) or less. The petition for a small estate proceeding must include, aside from the information required for a standard or abbreviated proceeding, a statement that the petitioner has made a diligent search to discover all property and debts of the decedent; a list of the known creditors of the decedent, with the amount of each claim, including contingent and disputed claim; and a statement of any legal proceedings pending in which the decedent was a party. If the court finds that the petition is accurate, it shall appoint a personal representative of the small estate; direct the immediate payment of the allowable funeral expenses and the family allowance; direct the sale of property as may be necessary to satisfy funeral expenses and the family allowance; and if it appears that there will be any property remaining after payment of funeral expenses and there is no family allowance payable, admit the will, if any, to probate and direct that notice be given to all interested parties.

PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO THE THREE TYPES OF PROCEEDINGS

If notice is required and thirty (30) days have expired since the publication of notice, the personal representative shall file proof of publication of the notice and a verified list of all claims. The court shall hear any objections filed pursuant to the notice and, if satisfied, that all action taken pursuant to this subchapter is proper, shall direct the personal representative to pay all proper claims and expenses and to distribute the net estate either in accordance with the will or, if the deceased died intestate, to the heirs. Specific sub-section governs the duties of the personal representative regarding distribution.

Additional resources provided by the author

Peter D. Antonoplos, Esq. is a partner with Antonoplos & Associates. Mr. Antonoplos’ practice focuses estate planning and real estate matters. Mr. Antonoplos is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, New York State; and State of Maryland. Mr. Antonoplos routinely lectures on real estate and probate law issues in Washington, DC and New York. Mr. Antonoplos lives in North West Washington, D.C. He is an avid chess player and motorcycle enthusiast. He may be reached at 202-803-5676.
COMMENTS
No Comment

POST a COMMENT:

Contact Us