Introduced Version House Bill 4329 History

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House Bill 4329

By Delegate Criss

[Introduced January 21, 2022; Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary]

A BILL to amend and reenact §44-1A-1 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to the West Virginia Small Estate Act; updating definitions; and adding a definition of the term “interested person” for purposes of identifying those who have a property right in or a claim against the estate of a decedent or property.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:


§44-1A-1. Short title; definitions.

(a) This article may be cited as the West Virginia Small Estate Act.

(b) For the purposes of this article, the following definitions apply:

(1) “Authorized successor” means the successor of a decedent who files an affidavit and is certified and authorized by the clerk of the county commission or the fiduciary supervisor thereof, pursuant to the provisions of this article.

(2) “Interested Person” means heirs, devisees, children, spouses, or creditors. Beneficiaries and any others having a property right in or a claim against the estate of a decedent or property in an estate. Interested persons include persons having priority for appointment as a personal representative and other fiduciaries representing interested persons. The meaning of the term interested person varies from time to time. The meaning must be determined according to the particular purposes or matter involved in the proceeding. An interested person may also include a bank, financial institution, or person that is holding assets related to the estate.

(2) (3) “Person” means any individual, corporation, business trust, fiduciary, estate, trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, government, governmental subdivision, agency, instrumentality, public corporation, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(3) (4) “Small asset” means any probate personal property or asset belonging or presently distributable to the decedent having a fair market value on the decedent’s date of death of not more than $50,000. A small asset includes, but is not limited to, cash, a bank account, a savings institution account, a credit union account, a certificate of deposit, a brokerage account, stock, a mutual fund, a security, a bond, a note, a promissory note, an obligation, an instrument evidencing a debt, indebtedness owed to the decedent, proceeds of life insurance payable to the estate, a deposit, a refund, a tax refund, an overpayment, a chose in action, or an item of tangible personal property including a motor vehicle. A small asset does not include real estate or an interest in real property. A small asset does not include a nonprobate asset of the decedent which would not be subject to administration in the decedent’s probate estate.

(4) (5) “Small estate” means a probate estate of a decedent who died domiciled in this state in which: (A) The total aggregate fair market value, on the decedent’s date of death, of small assets does not exceed $50,000; and (B) the total aggregate fair market value on the decedent’s date of death of all real estate or interests in real property situate in this state of which the decedent owned or was seized or possessed does not exceed $100,000, excluding any real estate of the decedent which was held in any nonprobate form. For the purposes of this article, the fair market value of real estate shall be presumed to be 167 percent of the current assessed value of the real estate on the land books as reported by the assessor of the county in which the real estate is situate.

(5) (6) “Successor” means any person, other than a creditor, who is nominated as a personal representative or executor under the provisions of the will of the decedent, or who is entitled under the provisions of the decedent’s will or the laws of intestate descent and distribution of this state to a part or all of a small asset of the decedent.


NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to clarify the definition of an "interested person" for purposes of the West Virginia Small Estate Act.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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