TN 41 (06-09)

SI 01120.215 Inheritances and Unprobated Estates

A. Policy for how treat an unprobated estate as a resource

An ownership interest in an unprobated estate may be a resource if an individual:

  • is an heir or relative of the deceased; or

  • receives any income from the property; or

  • under state intestacy laws, acquired rights in the property due to the death of the deceased.

1. Determining when an unprobated estate is a resource

Do not consider an inheritance a resource until the month following the month in which it meets the definition of income.

See SI 00830.550 for the income rules on inheritances.

Thereafter, if retained, evaluate the property as a resource.

2. How to determine when an ownership interest exists

There is an ownership interest in an unprobated estate if:

  • documents (e.g., a will or court records) indicate an individual is an heir to property of a deceased; or

  • an individual has use of a deceased's property or receives income from it; or

  • documents establish, or the individual alleges, a relationship between himself and the deceased which, under state intestacy laws, awards the individual a share in the distribution of the deceased's property; and

  • the inheritance, use of income, and distributions are uncontested.

B. Procedure for developing and documenting an unprobated estate

Develop an unprobated estate as a resource only if:

  • the property in question is not excludable under any of the provisions in SI 01110.210B.; and

  • the resource affects Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility.

1. How to document an ownership interest

Document the file, as applicable, with a copy of:

  • an inheritance or relationship document (or obtain a statement either signed or recorded on a report of contact (DROC), alleging a relationship);

  • evidence of income from the property;

  • the individual's statement either signed or recorded on a DROC, concerning his or her use of the property and whether there is contest of any factor; or

  • other evidence showing that the situation meets the criteria in SI 01120.215A.

NOTE: For general information related to electronic documentation of evidence and retention of evidence, see GN 00301.285 through GN 00301.289.

2. How to document sole vs. shared ownership

Follow SI 01110.510 and SI 01140.030 to determine and document whether there are other owners and, if so, whether the individual needs their consent to sell his or her share of the property.

3. Developing the resource status of an unprobated estate

  • If the individual is the sole owner or if other owners give needed consent to sell, the property is the individual's resource. Some states do not require the consent of other heirs in order for a co-owner to sell property. Refer to regional instructions for additional information.

  • If other owners withhold consent and that consent is necessary to sell, the property is not a resource until the estate has been through probate. It is subject to the resources counting rules the month following the month it meets the definition of income.

4. Developing the resource value of an unprobated estate

  1. Develop the property's current market value and equity value (if appropriate), following guidelines in SI 01140 for the particular type of property involved.

  2. Shared Ownership

C. Example of unprobated estate

1. Situation

Helen Jones, a disabled individual, lives in a house owned by her mother. Helen buys her own food but pays no rent and is charged with rent-free shelter at the presumed maximum value (PMV). In March, her mother dies and the house is part of the mother's estate pending probate. The will is uncontested and Helen Jones is the sole heir. Regional instruc