» Small Estate Affidavit Forms

Small Estate Affidavit Forms

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A small estate affidavit, also known as the ‘Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property’,  is a document that allows individual(s) that feel they are rightly due to inheritance when the decedent, the individual that died, did not leave a will. This is only for those that have died with less than $5,000 to $150,000 (maximum depends on the State) total to their name. The individual(s) making the claim will have to submit a small estate affidavit to the Probate Court located in their county or jurisdiction. The petitioner will usually, after submitting, make a notice to any and all creditors as they are to be paid first if there are any outstanding debts on behalf of the decedent.

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What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

Small estate affidavits are forms used to give authority to a person (usually an executor of the will or a beneficiary) to transfer and take responsibility for a deceased person’s properties. Properties included in this form are any assets such as bank accounts, jewelry, art, and vehicles that the deceased, also called the decedent, owned. The form gives the user power over the decedent’s estate to determine how assets will be managed and distributed to beneficiaries. They are also responsible for paying off any debts left by the deceased.

How Does a Small Estate Affidavit Work?

Small estate affidavits are a means to bypass or shorten the probate process for smaller estates, which can take a lot more time and money to determine who will be executor. Probate is when beneficiaries and potential executors of the property go through a hearing process to determine who will have power of attorney over the decedent’s estate.

Small estate affidavits don’t require that a will from the decedent exist. However, if there is a will, it must be filed with the affidavit and often gives power of attorney to the named executor.

Laws surrounding small estate affidavits change slightly from state to state, so be sure to look into the state’s legal restrictions and guidelines before submitting this form. Here are some of the most common requirements when it comes to determining if a small estate affidavit can be filed:

  • The estate has to be worth less than $150,000. This worth is calculated by adding the value of all the decedent’s assets and subtracting the remaining debt that needs to be paid.
  • There must be no actual real estate owned at the time of death by the decedent.
  • The form must be filed within 30 days of the decedent’s death at a county probate court where the decedent lived.
  • The probate court must not have already issued “letters of office.” This is a document giving legal authority and executor status of the estate to someone by the court.
  • There must not be any disputes about the estate by heirs or beneficiaries.

If there are no issues with any of the above items and you are an executor in the will or an heir, then you are often eligible to submit a small estate affidavit.

When Do I Use a Small Estate Affidavit?

The small estate affidavit lets you go to any person, company or bank that may currently hold estate property previously owned by the decedent. With this form, these entities are required to hand over or transfer the assets according to the terms of the affidavit, or they can face legal prosecution. However, these entities cannot be sued once the terms of the affidavit have been followed and the property transferred from their hands.

This form now gives you complete control over the estate and power of attorney. No entity should be able to refuse transferring the property once belonging to the estate.

Applying For a Small Estate Affidavit

It might seem tedious at first, but trust us. It’s easier to apply for a small estate affidavit than going through a probate hearing, which can last months! Here’s what you do:

  1. Research the laws in your state about restrictions for registering a small estate affidavit. You want to make sure you qualify before you even start the process.
  2. Collect information on all the assets and debts of the decedent. Including names and addresses of heirs and beneficiaries and your own information.
  3. Download and fill out the correct form for your state from our website. This will save you some time waiting to pick one up from the county circuit court office.
  4. Sign and make copies of the affidavit. You’ll need to sign it to be official, and we recommend making at least two copies of the form for your records.
  5. Attach the death certificate and will of the decedent. If there is no will, then just submit the death certificate with the form.
  6. Submit the form to the county probate court for approval.

And there you have it. Now your small estate affidavit is filled out, approved and ready to use.

Maximum Probate Amounts & Laws

Small Estate vs Affidavit of Heirship

A small estate and affidavit of heirship are closely related forms for after the death of someone without a will that divides the real and personal property. Most likely, the person that died did not have a will, and the heirs are seeking legal possession of their rightful property without going through the probate process.

Affidavit of Heirship – Mainly used to identify the heirs to a decedent’s estate. The form is sometimes attached to a small estate affidavit or submitted to transfer real estate that was owned by the decedent. In the case of real property, the document is usually filed with the county office in charge of land records (deeds).

Small Estate – Related to the transfer of all types of property; real, personal, vehicles etc. and has to be under a State mandated threshold in order for the heirs to bypass the probate process.