2006 Alabama Code - Section 43-2-692 — Petition for summary distribution; probate judge to take possession of assets of estate; when surviving spouse or distributees entitled to personal property without administration.

(a) The surviving spouse, if there is one, otherwise the distributees of an estate of personal property only, may initiate a proceeding for summary distribution of the estate by filing a petition as hereinafter provided in the probate judge's office of the county in which the decedent was domiciled at death. The petition shall include a description of the estate of the decedent. The judge of probate or his duly authorized clerk shall take actual possession of any liquid or negotiable assets and constructive possession of all other personal property of the decedent.

(b) The surviving spouse or distributee shall have a defeasible right to the personal property of the decedent without awaiting the appointment of a personal representative or the probate of a will if all of the following conditions exist:

(1) The value of the entire estate does not exceed $3,000.00;

(2) The decedent died a resident of this state;

(3) No petition for the appointment of a personal representative is pending or has been granted;

(4) At least 45 days have elapsed since the filing of a petition for summary distribution under this division and at least 21 days have elapsed since the first notice thereof was published as hereinafter provided;

(5) All funeral expenses of the decedent have been paid, or alternatively, that arrangements for the payment out of the estate of the decedent of all unpaid funeral expenses have been made by the surviving spouse or other distributee;

(6) If the decedent died intestate, the awards due under Alabama descent and distribution statutes to the surviving spouse and to the child or children have been determined by the probate judge, and a certified copy of such determination has been transmitted to the surviving spouse and the child or children;

(7) If the decedent died testate, a document purporting to be his will, which on its face, is properly executed, witnessed and attested in compliance with Alabama law, has been duly filed in the probate judge's office;

(8) Notice of the filing of a petition for a summary distribution under this division must be published once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the decedent was domiciled, or if there is no newspaper of general circulation in such county, then notice thereof must be posted at the county courthouse for three weeks;

(9) All claims against the decedent's estate have been paid or arrangements for the payment out of the estate of the decedent have been made by the surviving spouse or other distributee according to the following priority:

a. First, to each person entitled to payment for any funeral expenses owed by the decedent or his estate; then

b. To the judge of probate for fees and charges incurred in the proceedings for summary distribution; then

c. To any person entitled to payment for expenses incurred in the decedent's last illness; then

d. To the state of Alabama, the county and any municipality therein for taxes assessed on the estate of the decedent previous to his death; then

e. To each secured creditor under article 9 of Title 7 of this Code; then

f. To each unsecured lienholder; then

g. To each remaining general unsecured creditor of the decedent; then

h. To each surviving spouse, child or other distributee who is entitled to take under Alabama's descent and distribution laws, or, alternatively, to each devisee entitled to take under any testamentary disposition of the decedent.

(Acts 1975, 3rd Ex. Sess., No. 145, §3.)

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