TN 2 (03-07)

PR 08305.044 Rhode Island

A. PR 07-065 Rhode Island Small Estate Statute

Date: February 1, 2007

1. SYLLABUS

The Rhode Island small estate statute, R.I. Gen Laws § 33-24-1, was substantially revised effective July 23, 1998. § 33-24-1 of Rhode Island law now provides that if a resident of Rhode Island dies leaving an estate valued at no more than fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), exclusive of tangible personal property, "his or her surviving spouse, child, grandchild, parent, brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt or uncle, or any interested party, if of full age and legal capacity and a resident of this state, may, after the expiration of thirty (30) days from the death of the decedent, provided no petition for letters testamentary or letters of administration has been filed with the probate court of the city or town in which the decedent resided, file with the probate court upon a form prescribed by the court a statement, verified by oath or affirmation containing:

(a) The name and residential address of the affiant,

(b) The name, residence and date of death of the deceased,

(c) The relationship of the affiant to the deceased,

(d) A schedule showing every asset known to the affiant titled solely in the decedent's name and all assets known or believed to be titled in the decedent's name as of the decedent's date of death, and the estimated value of each such asset,

(e) A statement that the affiant has undertaken to act as voluntary administrator of the estate of the deceased and will administer the same according to law, and apply the proceeds thereof in conformity with this section,

(f) The names and addresses known to the affiant of the persons who would take under the provisions of [Rhode Island law] in the case of intestacy."

Section 33-24-1 further provides that "[u]pon presentation of such statement, accompanied by a certificate of the death of the deceased and payment of a fee of thirty dollars ($30.00), the clerk of the probate court shall file these documents as a part of the permanent record of the court. Upon the payment of five dollars ($5.00), the clerk of the probate court shall, if no other probate proceeding for administration of such estate is pending in said court, issue a certification of appointment of voluntary administrator, but only after such certification has been reviewed by the judge of the probate court."

2. OPINION

You requested our advice concerning the distribution of an underpayment in the amount of $1,200 due to a deceased Title 2 recipient. The deceased lived in Rhode Island and left no surviving widow, children or parents. His brother paid the funeral bill and has applied for the underpayment.

The Rhode Island small estate statute, R.I. Gen Laws § 33-24-1, was substantially revised effective July 23, 1998. The entry for Rhode Island currently contained in the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) at GN 02315.078 reflects the requirements of Rhode Island law prior to July 23, 1998, and should therefore be rescinded. The prior small estate statute had provided that a federal agency could directly pay an underpayment to the person who had paid the funeral bill of the deceased, up to the amount of the bill, if the person submitted an affidavit containing the listed information.

Since July 23, 1998, § 33-24-1 of Rhode Island law now provides that if a resident of Rhode Island dies leaving an estate valued at no more than fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), exclusive of tangible personal property, "his or her surviving spouse, child, grandchild, parent, brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt or uncle, or any interested party, if of full age and legal capacity and a resident of this state, may, after the expiration of thirty (30) days from the death of the decedent, provided no petition for letters testamentary or letters of administration has been filed with the probate court of the city or town in which the decedent resided, file with the probate court upon a form prescribed by the court a statement, verified by oath or affirmation containing:

(a) The name and residential address of the affiant,

(b) The name, residence and date of death of the deceased,

(c) The relationship of the affiant to the deceased,

(d) A schedule showing every asset known to the affiant titled solely in the decedent's name and all assets known or believed to be titled in the decedent's name as of the decedent's date of death, and the estimated value of each such asset,

(e) A statement that the affiant has undertaken to act as voluntary administrator of the estate of the deceased and will administer the same according to law, and apply the proceeds thereof in conformity with this section,

(f) The names and addresses known to the affiant of the persons who would take under the provisions of [Rhode Island law] in the case of intestacy."

Section 33-24-1 further provides that "[u]pon presentation of such statement, accompanied by a certificate of the death of the deceased and payment of a fee of thirty dollars ($30.00), the clerk of the probate court shall file these documents as a part of the permanent record of the court. Upon the payment of five dollars ($5.00), the clerk of the probate court shall, if no other probate proceeding for administration of such estate is pending in said court, issue a certification of appointment of voluntary administrator, but only after such certification has been reviewed by the judge of the probate court."

In the present case, the brother of the deceased should contact his local probate court to obtain the required form. The court clerk's office could assist him in filling out the form. Once he files the form and death certificate with the local probate court and receives the certificate of appointment as voluntary administrator, the Agency will be able to release the underpayment to him in accordance with the regulations at 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.503(b)(7) and (d)(1).


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1508305044
PR 08305.044 - Rhode Island - 06/05/2008
Batch run: 01/27/2009
Rev:06/05/2008