Indiana law provides avenues to bypass probate administration for small estates, but often administration of an estate through the probate court is your only option. Even if you find that probate court administration is the only way to disburse the assets of an estate it is still possible to complete the administration without court supervision and approval every step of the way. Unsupervised probate administration is allowed by Indiana law provided that certain conditions are met.
While the estate administration might not be fully supervised by the court there are still requirements and rules for the estate administrator to follow, so you will want to have an experienced Indiana probate attorney to help guide you through the unsupervised probate process. Call Hessler Law today at (317) 886-8800 to find out how we can help you with unsupervised probate.
Requesting Unsupervised Probate
Once probate administration of the estate has begun and a personal representative for the estate has been assigned, a petition to have the estate administered without court supervision can be filed. The petition can be filed by the assigned personal representative of the estate, by those named as devisees in the will, or by the decedent’s heirs if they died intestate.
Requirements for Unsupervised Probate
The court will consider the petition and can then approve unsupervised administration of the estate if certain requirements are met. The requirements are slightly different depending on if there was a will that authorized unsupervised administration of the estate, but there are two factors that must be met regardless of the situation.
- Solvency of the Estate – The estate must solvent, which means that it has more assets than it has financial liabilities. If the estate does not have the ability to pay all its bills then court supervision would be necessary.
- Qualified Personal Representative – The appointed personal representative for the estate must be qualified to administer the estate without court supervision. Indiana law does not provide specific qualifications that must be met for the personal representative, but the probate court would likely take into consideration factors such as the representative’s criminal history and experience in handling financial matters.
If the decedent’s will authorized unsupervised administration, the court can grant the petition as long as the estate is solvent and has a qualified personal representative. If the estate does not have a will that authorizes unsupervised administration, then all the beneficiaries of the estate must consent to unsupervised administration and join in the petition. If all the beneficiaries consent and a solvent estate has a qualified representative then the court can grant the petition for unsupervised administration even if it was not requested in a will.
Personal Representative’s Powers
Once the court grants a petition for unsupervised administration of an estate, the personal representative for the estate is given broad powers. The representative is able to take most actions regarding the distribution of the estate without the need for approval or confirmation from the probate court. Actions that can be taken without court approval include:
- The sale and distribution of real estate
- Distribution of estate assets
- Selling or acquiring estate assets
- Entering into leases, as lessor or lessee
- Borrowing money to be repaid from the estate’s assets
- Abandoning property if the personal representative believes it is of no benefit to the estate
While the powers of a personal representative in an unsupervised administration are extensive, they do not go unchecked. The probate court still reserves the power to revoke an order of unsupervised administration if the court finds that it is in the best interest of any of the parties involved.
The personal representative in an unsupervised administration is required to prepare a written inventory of the estate within two months after being appointed. The inventory must indicate the fair market value of all of the property belonging to the estate. The inventory does not have to be filed with the court, but the personal representative is required to provide a copy to any distributee who requests one.
Closing an Unsupervised Estate
The personal representative of an unsupervised estate is required to close an estate as promptly as possible. If the estate is not closed within one year the representative is required to file a statement with the court stating the reasons why the estate has not been closed.
Creditors of the estate must be given at least three months notice, but after three months an unsupervised estate can be closed if the personal representative files a statement with the court. The closing statement must state that the personal representative performed all of the required tasks, including:
- Published notice to estate creditors
- Settled all claims presented to the estate
- Distributed all the assets of the estate to persons entitled to receive assets
- Provided a copy of the closing statement to all distributees of the estate and known creditors
If no claims are active against the personal representative three months after the closing statement is filed, then the appointment of the personal representative terminates and the unsupervised estate is closed by operation of law.
How an Indianapolis Unsupervised Probate Attorney Can Help
The unsupervised administration of a probate estate can eliminate much of the paperwork and time in court that is associated with taking an estate through probate court. When an unsupervised administration is available it still requires specific duties to be performed, and the lack of court oversight could lead to disagreements between the personal representative and estate beneficiaries. A knowledgeable Indianapolis probate attorney can help to ensure the estate is administered correctly and work to prevent conflicts from developing.
Attorney Sean Hessler is an Indianapolis probate lawyer with experience handling supervised and unsupervised probate administrations of all sizes. Call Hessler Law PC at (317) 886-8800 today for a free and confidential consultation if you have questions about an estate that needs to go through probate.