Small estates are those with limited assets and few, if any, creditors. They are handled by the court using either a summary administration procedure or disposition without administration, sometimes called family administration.
The requirements to qualify for summary administration are gross estate assets of less than $75,000 or that the decedent has been dead for more than two years. If the decedent has been dead less than two years, there must not be any creditors of the estate or agreements for payment must be made with the creditors.
In a summary administration, a probate attorney can assist the family in determining which assets must be used to determine the amount of gross assets, negotiate with creditors, and have property determined to be protected as homestead property or otherwise exempt from creditor claims. Family administration can be had where the estate assets are either exempt or do not exceed the cost of funeral expenses and medical and hospital expenses of the decedent in the last sixty days.