Let's say that a "small estate" (for example, in New York, under $50,000) is resolved through a Small Estate process. Letters of Administration are issued for a few small accounts. And then, months later, a new account is uncovered. Normally, the administrator would just file an Affidavit Amendment.

But what if the new accounts have a value which would take the overall estate OVER the $50,000 threshold?

Can the administrator still get access because he didn't know of those accounts? Does something retroactive happen to the estate?

  • I assume US, and maybe even NY, based on the wording?
    – Trish
    Oct 20, 2020 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


This would vary considerably from state to state.

One of the main ways that a small estates procedure will usually differ from a normal probate estate process is the way that creditor's claims are handled. Typically, a small estate threshold is set up so that all assets in qualifying estates are exempt from creditor's claims. If the threshold is exceeded, the process of giving notice to creditors and processing creditors claims must usually be initiated.

Sometimes, a small estate threshold is also set in a manner that causes all inheritances to be distributed to a spouse and/or minor children in lieu of personal designated in an intestacy statute or pursuant to the language of a will, due to statutory preferences for those persons. In those cases, the process of determining the validity of a will is dispensed with in a small estate, but must be determined when those statutory priority payment thresholds have been exhausted.

But, it is hard to make general statements. There is more interstate diversity in probate procedure than in most areas of U.S. state law, and small estate processes are equally diverse.

  • 1
    Thank you -- it seems that in this case, in NY, the purpose is your second explanation. The new accounts happen to be 529's, already designated for specific heirs, but officially part of the estate of the deceased, pushing the estate over the 50k threshold.
    – rosends
    Oct 20, 2020 at 11:17
  • A 529 with a beneficiary designation is a non-probate asset in NYS. A 529 allocated by will would be a probate asset. Also, FWIW, NYS is very atypical in its probate procedures in s=Surrogate's Court (and among the worst of any of the U.S. states).
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 20, 2020 at 18:17
  • these 529's have beneficiaries but, as of now, no "owner" as the owner died without handing them off, so they are part of the estate (it seems). Even if they are "non-probate" assets, wouldn't their value still be used to compute the overall size of the estate?
    – rosends
    Oct 20, 2020 at 20:57
  • If it is a pay on death type beneficiary (not necessarily the case) then it would be a non-probate asset and wouldn't be used to compute the overall size of the estate. Other non-probate assets including life insurance with a named beneficiary, IRAs with a named beneficiary, real estate owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship or tenancy by entireties, and joint bank accounts.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 21, 2020 at 18:39
  • 1
    In this case, the answer was "file papers to rescind the letters testamentary for the small estate, get siblings to renounce their rights as anything, then refile for full probate and, as of this writing, wait."
    – rosends
    Mar 19, 2021 at 19:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .