I am a 27 year old resident of Texas, my father died when I was 14 years old back in 2003, my mother just recently died in 2016, I received a notice from a private investigator, hired by the state of Texas, saying that there is a life insurance policy under my father's name being held in trust by a third party, I've been sent a small estate affidavit form to fill out, I am the only child of my parents. To my knowledge - no assets exist other than this life insurance claim and all liabilities have been paid for. The value of the life insurance policy is less than $50,000. My mother and I were the only listed beneficiaries.
Do the disinterested witnesses have to be people that knew my father?
Does the small estate affidavit have to be filed in the county that he died?
Are the life insurance funds, that I am attempting to claim, considered a separate property?
Do I still have to list properties that DID exist at the time of my father's death? Considering, it has been so many years (13) and NONE of the properties and liabilities exist anymore as they were taken care of/sold by my mother shortly after my father's death.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Before I answer your questions, I would caution you as to one thing. I have never heard of the State of Texas hiring an investigator in this manner. It sounds like you may be the target of an attempt to have you pay to get information that is readily available (assuming that it's true at all.) Are they asking you to pay any fee or charge for their services? Is it possible that this is property held by the Texas Unclaimed Property program. If so, then you can find the information for free at https://www.comptroller.texas.gov/programs/claim-it/.
This is also suspicious because a beneficiary of a life insurance policy gets the money without its going through the estate. In other words, if you are a beneficiary, a small estate affidavit won't help for you. Since your mother was also a beneficiary, then the small estate affidavit might be for you to inherit her portion.
Assuming that this is valid, then:
Yes, the disinterested people will have to swear that to facts about your father.
The term "small estate affidavit" is sort of a misnomer. It is an affidavit, but it is filed in a court and must be approved by a judge. It is in the county of his residence, not necessarily his death.
An inheritance is separate property.
The list of assets must be (1) all of the assets of the estate, (2) listed and valued as of the date of death and (3) not valued at more than $50,000 (exclusive of homestead or exempt property). If its your mother's estate that we are talking about (see above), then this would apply to her estate and not your father's.
Good luck to you.
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