Author Archives: Paulette Perrier

Inheritance Laws of Rhode Island, Queston 7

7.    There are many Paralegal Studies programs offered in Rhode Island. There are only three colleges and universities that offer a paralegal/legal assistant degree program in Rhode Island.  However, Roger Williams University (RWU) offers the only Paralegal Studies programs in the state that are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). It received the ABA approval in 1998.

Address:  Roger Williams University • 150 Washington St., Providence, RI 02903


At RWU, one can earn a Bachelor of Science or Associate of Science degree in Paralegal Studies.  In addition, RWU offers two certificates in Paralegal Studies: Certificate in Paralegal Studies and Certificate in Nurse Paralegal.  A BA is the prerequisite for enrolling in the certificate program.

Tuition: It was obscenely difficult to find the tuition for the Paralegal Studies programs at Roger Williams University on the RWU website.  An online search at ( stated: “At Roger Williams, [annual (2014-15)] tuition costs $31,750, which is noticeably more expensive than other top tier private (not-for-profit) institutions in the country”. This is also higher than City Tech.  Per the RWU website, the certificate programs are designed to take one year to complete and the tuition is $9,982.

They do not offer an Estates, Trusts and Wills course.

Inheritance Laws of Rhode Island, Question 6

6. Probate Court

city hall
City Hall just after its dedication on November 14, 1878

Address:  Probate Court, City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street, Providence RI 02903

I selected this 1878 photo because, aside from being majestic, it gives the viewer a clear view. All the available contemporary photos had problems, view obscured by trees, etc. and only partial views of the City Hall. The building is the same today as it was in 1878, but the statue has been moved.

Inheritance Laws of Rhode Island, Question 5

5.    The Capraro Appraisal Company, Inc.  Link: 

The Capraro Appraisal Company appears to be a full service company offering the usual real estate appraisers services like mortgages and tax assessments.  The service that is most interesting to us, is the Estate Planning and the Settlement services, after the death of a loved one, like determining the value of the estate.

About the website: It’s sad that with one of the best art schools in the world relatively nearby, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the Capraro Appraisal Company, Inc. has such an unkempt, user unfriendly, and dull website. I selected this firm in spite of their website, and because they were one of the few real estate appraisers on the Directors of Appraisers of Providence, Rhode Island’s list that listed more than just mortgages and foreclosures as their services offered.

Inheritance Laws of Rhode Island, Question 4

4. The city with the largest population in Rhode Island is Providence, population 178,042. For comparison, the next most populous city, with less than half of Providence’s population is Warwick with 82,672.

I used Martindale-Hubbell to search law firms in Providence, R.I. that “specialize in probate/estate planning”. Martindale listed many firms that have a probate/estate planning/trust practice among their other practices. I chose Verrill Dana LLP which was established in 1862. Their website is:

I chose Verrill Dana LLP mainly because of their well presented and information rich website. Probably because they have 135 attorneys, they are able to staff three groups for each of the areas being examined here. The lawyers in Verrill Dana’s Probate Litigation Group represent individuals, fiduciaries and institutions involved in contested and uncontested matters involving trusts and estates in the probate courts. Another Verrill Dana group is the Fiduciary Services Group which serves as trustees of trusts and representatives of estates. Their site says they offer “full service trust management, trust administration.” There is also an Estate Planning and Estate Administration Group.

I like that Verrill Dana’s website justifiably boasts about their apparently well-deserved accolades: “Selected by Fortune Magazine and Martindale-Hubbell as a “2015 Top Ranked Law Firm.”” And the firm was “Recognized in the 2015 U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings”. The most impressive accolade occurred  on 4/30/2015, when Law360, a company owned by Lexis, released its 2015 Glass Ceiling Report, in which Verrill Dana is ranked the “11th best law firm for female attorneys”. In the report, the Firm is also recognized for “surpassing the national average for percentage of females in its partnership by 14%”.

dana firm

Rhode Island Inheritance Laws 1c

. If a decedent is survived by no spouse and no issue:

Under Rhode Island’s “intestate succession” laws, R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 33-1-12 (West 1956), when there is no spouse and no issue, the estate will go to relatives. Pertaining to real estate, when there is no so spouse no issue, the intestate succession is more precise. Under , R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 33-1-1 (West 1956), the surviving parents shall inherit everything, and if no parent survive(s) then the siblings (i.e., descendants of the parents) t shall inherit. This is basically athe same succession pattern that New York’ has in this situation.  EPTL § 4-1.1(a)(4).

Rhode Island Inheritance Laws – 1b

1b. If a decedent is survived by a spouse and no issue:

If a decedent is survived by a spouse and no issue, the spouse can, petition the probate court to inherit up to $75,000* of decedent’s intestate real estate outright; otherwise, the spouse will just be entitled to only a life estate — i.e., the right to use the real estate for life, but spouse cannot sell it or give it away. The spouse also inherits $50,000 worth of spouse’s personal property, plus 1/2 of the balance. EPTL §4-1.1(a)(2) In New York, when a decedent is survived by a spouse and no issue, the whole estate goes to the spouse.


Rhode Island Inheritance Laws – 1a

Intestate Succession in Rhode Island

1a. If decedent is survived by a spouse and issue:

The statutes governing intestate succession in Rhode Island and New York are different. R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 33-1-12 (West 1956) directly addresses the intestate estate. It says that any part of a decedent’s estate that does not get disposed of by a will, will pass by succession to the decedent’s heirs. Detailing the intestate succession further, R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 33-1-5 (West 1956), says that the spouse has the right to use decedent’s intestate real estate for life, along with inheriting one-half of the spouse’s personal property. The descendants, including issue, inherit everything else. Provisions are made for issue here in §§ 33-1-1 and in § 33-1-2 distribution to decedents’ parents and other kin are discussed. According to § 33-1-6 a surviving spouse in fee [simple] real estate and situated in Rhode Island shall inherit the fee simple estate, although not exceeding one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) in value. In contrast, according to EPTL § 4-1.1(a)(1), in New York when a decedent is survived by a spouse and issue, the distribution shall be fifty thousand dollars and one half of the residue and then the balance is distributed to the issue, by representation.