A Rhode Island small estate affidavit is used to appoint an administrator to settle a decedent’s estate outside probate court. The form, called a “Petition for Voluntary Informal Administrator,” is used to petition the court to allow the affiant to handle all estate matters independently, circumventing the more time-consuming and costly probate process. To qualify for the petition, the estate’s total value (not including the decedent’s tangible property) must be $15,000 or less, and and cannot include real estate.
The Petition for Voluntary Informal Administrator can only be used in cases where the decedent left no will. If the decedent devised a will, the Petition for Voluntary Informal Executor will need to be filed instead.
How to File (4 Steps)
- Step 1 – Petition Requirements
- Step 2 – File Petition
- Step 3 – Collect Assets
- Step 4 – Settle Estate
A Petition for Voluntary Informal Administrator (Form PC-1.10) can only be used under specific circumstances. The following conditions must be met:
- The decedent has been deceased for thirty (30) days.
- The decedent did not own real estate.
- The total estate value, excluding tangible personal property, is $15,000 or less.
- The affiant is a Rhode Island resident.
- There is no Petition for Probate of the Will, petition for letters testamentary, or letters of administration filed in the probate court of the city or town where the decedent resided.
Once the probate judge assesses the petition and certificate, the clerk will issue a certification of appointment of voluntary administrator. The granting of the certification does not usually require a court hearing; however, the judge may request one before appointing the affiant the informal administrator (or executor). The certification will require a $5 fee.
An affiant named executor in the decedent’s will should instead complete and file the Petition for Voluntary Informal Executor (Form PC-1.9) in the same manner as the Petition for Voluntary Informal Administrator. If the petition is successful, the affiant will be issued a certification of appointment of executor (§ 33-24-2).
Note: Tangible property must be stated on the petition, but is not included in the estate’s total value.
The voluntary administrator or executor can present a copy of the certification of appointment to collect the assets listed in the petition schedule. Both tangible and intangible property (defined in § 33-21.1-1(10)), such as money, accounts, stocks, and bonds may be collected in the same manner.
The voluntary administrator or executor will need to settle the estate in the following order: