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Small Estate Affidavit Forms

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small estate affidavit is a document used for collecting the assets of someone that recently passed away and who had a relatively small (low value) estate. It is most commonly used when the person passed away intestate (died without a will). The form gives the surviving heirs a means of circumventing probate, which is a notoriously long and expensive process through the court system.

By State

Contents

What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit is a written document that grants an individual the right to legally acquire a deceased person’s assets. It can only be used if the deceased person has an estate below the maximum value determined by state law, among other requirements. The beneficiaries or executor must file the form with the local county clerk. Then, it can be presented to financial institutions and other entities in possession of the decedent’s belongings. The form’s name may vary from state to state; for example, it may be known as a “petition for summary distribution” or “affidavit for collection of personal property.”

Who’s it for?

It’s for the descendants/heirs/beneficiaries of a person that died. If the decedent left a will, the named executor will be responsible for distributing the remaining assets (after all debts have been paid).

Sample

SMALL ESTATE AFFIDAVIT

I certify that all of the following statements are true regarding the Estate of [DECEDENT NAME]:

1. THE DECEDENT. Decedent, [DECEDENT NAME], died on [MM/DD/YYYY] in the County of [COUNTY], in the State of [STATE]. A copy of the decedent’s death certificate will be submitted along with this affidavit.

2. THE AFFIANT. My name is [AFFIANT NAME]. I reside at [AFFIANT ADDRESS]. I am either an heir of the decedent, and the decedent left no will, or I am a named devisee of the decedent in the decedent’s will.

3. ESTATE VALUE. The value of the assets of the decedent’s estate exceeds the estate’s known liabilities. The value of the decedent’s estate does not exceed the monetary limit imposed by the State of [DECEDENT STATE].

4. DAYS SINCE DEATH. More than [#] days have passed since the decedent’s death. There is no pending administration of the decedent’s estate. There is no reasonable expectation that probate of the decedent’s estate will soon commence.

5. HEIRS. All heirs or devisees will be notified of this affidavit within 30 days of filing. The heirs or devisees of the decedent are listed as follows:

Heir: [HEIR NAME]
Address: [HEIR ADDRESS]
Relation: [RELATION TO DECEDENT]
Phone: [PHONE NUMBER]

Heir: [HEIR NAME]
Address: [HEIR ADDRESS]
Relation: [RELATION TO DECEDENT]
Phone: [PHONE NUMBER]

(Add additional Heirs or Devisees as necessary)

6. ASSETS. All assets of the decedent’s estate (whether real property or personal property, whether community property or separate property) and the value of such assets are listed below:

DESCRIPTION                    VALUE

[DESCRIPTION]                [VALUE ($)]
[DESCRIPTION]
                [VALUE ($)]
[DESCRIPTION]
                [VALUE ($)]

(Add additional Assets as necessary)

7. LIABILITIES. All liabilities and debts of the decedent’s estate and what the estate owes each creditor are listed below:

DESCRIPTION                    VALUE

[DESCRIPTION]                [VALUE ($)]
[DESCRIPTION]
                [VALUE ($)]
[DESCRIPTION]
                [VALUE ($)]

(Add additional Liabilities or Debts as necessary)

8. PROPERTY TO BE TRANSFERRED. The following heirs or devisees are entitled to the following property:

HEIR NAME                        PROPERTY

[FULL NAME]                     [PROPERTY DESCRIPTION]
[FULL NAME]                     [PROPERTY DESCRIPTION]
[FULL NAME]
                     [PROPERTY DESCRIPTION]

(Add additional Heirs or Devisees as necessary)

9. STATE LAW. This document is governed under the laws in the State of [STATE NAME].

10. EXECUTION.

Affiant (Preparer) Signature: _________________________ Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]

Witness 1 Signature: _________________________ Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]
Witness Name: [WITNESS PRINTED NAME]

Witness 2 Signature: _________________________ Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]
Witness Name: [WITNESS PRINTED NAME]

 

How to Use a Small Estate Affidavit

Whether or not an affidavit can be used depends largely on the laws of the state in which the person died. Factors such as the net estate value, the number of days that have passed, whether or not a will was left, and if there are any unpaid claims can all impact the usability of the document.

Step 1 – File the Will (if any) & Wait the Required Time

If the decedent died with a will, it will need to be filed in the courthouse of the county in which the person lived. It is a legal requirement that the will be filed within the grace period provided by state law.

Step 2 – Calculate the Decedent’s Net Estate Value

A person’s net estate value is calculated by subtracting the decedent’s assets from their debts and liabilities. The IRS classifies assets as real estate, stocks/bonds, mortgages, insurance (on the deceased person’s life), jointly-owned property, and annuities. Liabilities include funeral expenses, debts, and mortgages/liens. The affidavit contains space for listing all assets and liabilities, along with their respective values/costs. These values will need to be displayed to the county clerk. As long as the sum is a value that is within state requirements, the affidavit can be used.

Step 3 – Complete the Affidavit

Download the form in PDF, Word (.docx), or OpenDocument and complete the following required fields:

    1. Name of the decedent.
    2. The street address, state, and county they resided in at their time of death.
    3. The date (day, month, and year) on which they passed away.
    4. The name of the heir/devisee (person completing the form).
    5. Their full street address.
    6. The net value of the decedent’s estate.
    7. The number (#) of days that have passed since the decedent’s death.
    8. The name, address, relation (to the decedent), and phone number of each heir/devisees.
    9. A breakdown of the decedent’s assets and liabilities.
    10. A list of property and the corresponding beneficiary of said property.
    11. The signature of the heir/devisee completing the form.

Step 4 – Reach Out to Heirs

This is another factor that is dependent on the state in which the decedent resided upon death. Someone’s estate needs to be distributed in correspondence to the state’s hierarchy of heirs-at-law. While the exact structure can vary, it generally goes in the following order:

  • Spouses & children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents & siblings
  • Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, & cousins

Each living heir should be contacted by using certified mail. This provides the executor with proof that they reached out to all heirs.

Step 5 – Attach the Necessary Forms

For the form to be accepted by third parties, a copy of the decedent’s death certificate and will (if one was left) should be attached to the form. A copy of the death certificate can typically be found at the local county recorder.

Step 6 – File Forms + Collect Belongings

File the completed affidavit with the county recorder. The heir can then take the affidavit, death certificate, and the decedent’s will (if any) and display it to entities currently in possession of the executor’s belongings. By law, said institutions are required to release the belongings. If they are reluctant, the heir should point to the applicable state statute (shown below) and request them to provide (in writing) the law that forbids them from handing over the assets. If necessary, an attorney can be consulted for assistance.

Small Estate Requirements: By State

STATE MAX ESTATE VALUE ($) MIN. REQUIRED WAIT TIME STATUTE
Alabama $32,047 (adjusted annually by the State Finance Director) N/A § 43-2-692
Alaska $50,000 in personal property; $100,000 in vehicles 30 days § 13.16.680
Arizona $75,000 in personal property; $100,000 in real property 30 days | 6 months § 14-3971
Arkansas $100,000 45 days § 28-41-101
California $166,250 in real and personal property; or $55,425 in real property only 40 days | 6 months Ch. 3, § 1300
Colorado Can’t exceed 2X the value as stated by  § 15-11-403, & adjusted by § 15-10-112 10 days § 15-12-1201
Connecticut $40,000 N/A § 45a-273
Delaware $30,000 30 days § 2306
Florida $75,000 N/A § 735.201
Georgia N/A N/A § 7-1-239
Hawaii $100,000 N/A § 560:3-1201
Idaho $100,000 30 days § 15-3-1201
Illinois $100,000 N/A § 755 ILCS 5/9-8
Indiana $100,000 45 days § 29-1-8-1
Iowa $50,000 40 days § 633.356(1)
Kansas $40,000 N/A § 59-1507b
Kentucky $30,000 N/A § 391.030
Louisiana $125,000 90 days (immovable property) § 3421
Maine $40,000 30 days § 3-1201
Maryland Spouse – $100k; Children – $50k N/A § 5601
Massachusetts $25,000 30 days § 3-1201
Michigan $15,000 (adj. by § 700.1210) 28 days § 700.3983
Minnesota $75,000 30 days § 524.3-1201
Mississippi $75,000 30 days § 91-7-322
Missouri $40,000 30 days § 473.097
Montana $50,000 30 days § 72-3-1101
Nebraska $50,000 30 days § 30-24,129
Nevada Spouse – $100k; Other heirs – $25k 40 days § 146.080
New Hampshire N/A N/A § 553:32
New Jersey Spouse – $50k; Other heirs – $20k N/A § 3B:10-3 & § 3B:10-4
New Mexico $50,000 30 days § 45-3-1201
New York $50,000 N/A § 1301
North Carolina $20,000 30 days § 28A-25-1
North Dakota $50,000 30 days § 30.1-23-01
Ohio $35,000 N/A § 2113.03
Oklahoma $50,000 10 days § 58-393
Oregon Real property – $200k; Personal property – $75k 30 days §§ 114.510,  114.515
Pennsylvania $50,000 N/A § 3102
Rhode Island $15,000 30 days § 33-24-1
South Carolina $25,000 30 days § 62-3-1201
South Dakota $50,000 30 days § 29A-3-1201
Tennessee $50,000 45 days § 30-4-102 & § 30-4-103
Texas $75,000 30 days § 205.001
Utah $100,000 30 days § 75-3-1201
Vermont $45,000 N/A § 1901
Virginia $50,000 60 days § 64.2-601
Washington $100,000 40 days § 11.62.010
West Virginia $50,000 in personal property; $100,000 in real property 30 days | 60 days § 44-1A-2
Wisconsin $50,000 N/A § 867.03
Wyoming $200,000 30 days § 2-1-201