Going through the probate process in Texas courts can be costly when someone dies. A small estate affidavit can avoid a lot of the probate costs for the survivor handling the deceased person’s estate. The small estate affidavit must show that the deceased’s estate is less than $50,000, the estate’s assets covers any outstanding debts, and a few other requirements.
Unfortunately, many low-income Texans faced a hurdle in filing a small estate affidavit – they did not know how much money the deceased person had in their bank account and had no way of finding out unless they filed suit in probate court. The cost of doing so was often more than was in the account.
The Commission worked with members of the 84th Legislature to resolve this barrier for low-income Texans by passing a law to allow courts to issue an order requiring a financial institution to disclose the amount of money in a deceased person’s account. Once the account balance is known, the person handling the deceased person’s estate can determine whether all the debts can be paid and if a small estate affidavit can be filed.