Hartsfield Law is continuing to accept new clients. Because of COVID-19, many people have become acutely aware of the importance of having their plans in place in case of incapacity or death. At Hartsfield Law we are using technology such as Zoom Conferencing, Facetime and even the telephone to meet with clients. Please call 903-533-1651 today to set up an appointment.

When someone in Texas dies without a Will, it is sometimes possible to settle his or her estate using a Small Estate Affidavit (“SEA”).  However, there is specific criteria that must be met before this method is available. Those are:

  • The individual died intestate (died without a Will)
  • Thirty days have passed since the death of the individual.
  • No other probate proceeding has been started to appoint a personal representative for the estate.
  • The value of the estate assets, (not including the homestead or other exempt property) cannot exceed $75,000.
  • The value of the total of all assets, (not including the homestead or other exempt property) must be greater than the total of the debts owed by the estate.

Occasionally, when someone dies they leave behind only a modest estate, such as a home, a bank account and personal items.  In these cases, a SEA may be appropriate.  However, there are certain circumstances under which it may not be used. The SEA is effective to transfer title to a homestead IF the homestead is the only real property in the estate. If the person who died had a homestead, along with other real property, the SEA cannot be used.  

Here’s another restriction on the use of the SEA:  Even if the only real property is the homestead, it must be inherited only by person(s) who were homesteading with the decedent at the time the decedent died. Generally, this will be the surviving spouse and / or minor children who resided on the property with the decedent.

Finally, you must be able to locate all of the heirs and all of the heirs must agree to sign the SEA.