Delaware Probate Estate

Delivering the Will

The person who has custody of a deceased’s last Will and Testament must deliver it to the Register of Wills within 10 days of learning of the death. If the person willfully fails to deliver the Will, they will be liable for damages to any aggrieved person. § 1301

Proving the Will

If the deceased only left personal property worth less than $30,000 (and no real property), then you may use the Small Estate Affidavit to transfer personal assets such as a car, boat and trailer. The original affidavit or short certificate is issued by the Register of Wills.

If the testator lived in Delaware, his/her Delaware Will must be proved before the Register of Wills in the County where he/she resided at the time of death. If the testator did not reside in Delaware at the time of death, then it may be proved in any county where the decedent left property.  § 1302

The Register of Wills can grant letters testamentary to appoint an executor under the Delaware Last Will & Testament. § 1502. If there is no Will, the court may grant letters of administration to appoint a personal representative to administer the estate. The order of priority for the administrator role is usually the spouse, then children, parents, whole blood siblings and finally half blood siblings. If there is no such person, then a personal representative will be appointed by the Register of Wills in its discretion. § 1505

Paying Inheritance and Estate Taxes

The executor or administrator will need to file an inheritance tax return with the Delaware Division of Revenue. No estate tax return is needed to be filed if all the real and personal property was owned by the deceased jointly with his/her spouse. The spouse just needs to file an affidavit with the Register of Wills.

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