How Probate Laws Work in Rhode Island

When a loved one dies, the remaining family members have some responsibilities to deal with as they grieve. They must deal with the estate of the decedent as well as the assets and debts. This can be a stressful, emotional time for all involved.

Probate is the legal method of handling the estate, which must be overseen by the court. Probate is different for each state, which is why it is important to understand how it works for Rhode Island.

Is Probate Required in Rhode Island?

Probate is usually needed to distribute the assets of an estate. There are a few exceptions for when probate may not be necessary.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Rhode Island?

The best way to avoid probate in Rhode Island is to place the estate in a living trust. With a living trust, the assets will pass to the named beneficiary when the owner dies without going through the probate process.

It’s possible for some assets to not be included in probate even if the estate must go through the process. Any assets owned by two or more people equally will pass to the surviving owners after the death of one owner.

Some assets will automatically go to the people named as beneficiaries after the death of the owner. For instance, life insurance policies usually have beneficiaries, as do retirement accounts. Bank accounts may have someone listed as payable on death. All these assets bypass probate because they already have someone named as the new owner.

Can an Executor of an Estate in Rhode Island be Compensated?

Rhode Island allows for an executor to receive compensation for their work on the estate. They may also be paid for any expenses they incur to manage the estate. This may include traveling expenses or storage fees if paid out of pocket.

How Much Does an Executor in Rhode Island Get Paid?

The laws of Rhode Island don’t give a definite amount or percentage for payment to the executor or personal representative. In section 14-8, the statute states that they are allowed to be compensated for services as the court determines to be just. This wording leave it open to interpretation by the court overseeing the case.

How Long Does Probate Take in Rhode Island?

The timeline for probate will vary based on the size and complexity. However, it will have to remain open for at least six months because creditors are given that much time to submit claims. If the executor must sell of assets to pay the debts of the decedent, probate can remain open for much longer. Anyone contesting the will can cause delays as well. Some probate cases can take several years before they are closed.

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Rhode Island?

Most estates will need to go through probate with at least some of the assets. It is difficult to avoid probate in Rhode Island. However, you can avoid the complex process if you qualify for small estate probate. To qualify, an estate must have a value of less than $15,000 of personal property. The necessary forms must be filed with the court, but it takes less time to go through the process.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Rhode Island?

A will must be filed with the court whenever a person dies. It doesn’t matter whether the estate will go through probate. The purpose of filing the will is to ensure it is valid and that the decedent’s wishes are honored. Much of the time, a petition for probate will be filed at the same time as when the will is presented.

Settling an Estate in Rhode Island

Several steps must be completed to settle an estate in Rhode Island. It’s important to understand what these steps are whether you’re the executor or involved in any other way.

Even though having an estate attorney isn’t required in Rhode Island probate cases, it can be helpful to seek legal advice.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After a Death in Rhode Island?

The statutes of Rhode Island require the person who has possession of the will to file it with the court within 30 days of being notified of the person’s death. If they fail to do so, they may be called in contempt of court. They can even be remanded to jail until they present the will.

Probate Court in Rhode Island

Probate court looks a little different in Rhode Island than in other states where one court covers each county. In Rhode Island, there is a probate court in each city or town with judges who are appointed. In the Town of New Shoreham, the town council takes on the role of probate judge. You can visit the city government website to find more information about that specific probate court.

Probate Code in Rhode Island

The laws for probate in Rhode Island are found in the State of Rhode Island General Laws under Title 33. You can find it on the website of the State of Rhode Island General Assembly The State of Rhode Island General Laws.