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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. 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


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 person that died has an estate below the maximum value determined by state law, among other requirements. The beneficiary(s) or executor will need to file the form with the local county clerk. Then, it can be presented to financial institutions and other entities that are in possession of the decedent’s belongings. Depending on the state, it may be known as a “Petition for summary distribution” or “Affidavit for collection of personal property”, among other titles.

Who’s it for?

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

How to Use a Small Estate Affidavit

Whether or not an affidavit can be used depends heavily on the state the person died in. 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, this will need to be filed in the courthouse of the county in which the person lived. It is a legal requirement 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. They need to be calculated to a specific date, which is typically the date of death. 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 costs. These values will need to be displayed to the county clerk. So long they sum to 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. Complete all fields. The following information will be required in the form:

    1. Name of the decedent;
    2. The street address, state, and county they resided in at their time of death;
    3. The day, month, and year in 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;
  1. The number (#) of days that have passed since the decedent’s death;
  2. The name, address, relation (to the decedent), and phone number of each heir/devisees to the decedent;
  3. An item-by-item breakdown of the decedent’s assets and liabilities;
  4. What heir is entitled to what property;
  5. The signature of the heir/devisee.

Step 4 – Reach Out to Heirs

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

  • 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 indeed reached out to all heirs.

Step 5 – Attach the Necessary Forms

In order 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 the will to the form. A copy of the death certificate can typically be found at the local county recorder.

Step 6 – File it + 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 withholding 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. In the worst case, an attorney can be consulted for assistance.

Small Estate Requirements: By State

Alabama $25,000 30 days § 43-2-692
Alaska $15,000 30 days § 13.16.680
Arizona $75,000 30 days § 14-3971
Arkansas $100,000 45 days § 28-41-101
California $166,250 40 days 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 $15,000 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 $50,000 45 days § 29-1-8-1
Iowa $100,000 N/A § 635.1
Kansas $40,000 N/A § 59-1507b
Kentucky $30,000 N/A § 391.030
Louisiana $125,000 N/A § 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 $50,000 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 $100,000 N/A § 44-3A-5
Wisconsin $50,000 N/A § 867.03
Wyoming $200,000 30 days § 2-1-201