A Pennsylvania small estate affidavit allows a decedent’s estate to be settled with less court involvement than the standard probate process. Estates valued under $50,000 (excluding real estate or certain payments specified under § 3101) are eligible to be settled through this document, referred to in Pennsylvania as the “Petition of Settlement of a Small Estate.” Filing the form with the Orphan’s Court authorizes the petitioner to resolve the estate’s debts, collect the decedent’s property from third parties, and distribute it to the entitled heirs.
Pennsylvania is one (1) of the six (6) states that impose an Inheritance Tax on estates and require additional documents when settling the estate (see below).
How to File (4 Steps)
- Step 1 – Estate Requirements
- Step 2 – File Petition
- Step 3 – Settle Estate
- Step 4 – File Inventory and Inheritance Tax Return
A Petition for Settlement of a Small Estate can be used for estates with a total value of $50,000 or less. Real estate and assets that the decedent’s heirs may collect under § 3101 do not need to be factored into the estate valuation.
The petition should be filled out and filed with the Orphan’s Court in the county wherein the decedent resided at the time of death. The document should be completed and signed in the presence of a notary public.
If the petition is accepted, the court will issue a Decree of Distribution entitling the person(s) named in the petition to receive the decedent’s property without further administration.
The petitioner will need to identify and settle the decedent’s debts before distributing the estate. Certain assets, such as the decedent’s unpaid wages or deposit account (up to $10,000), can be directly transferred to the decedent’s spouse, child, parent(s), or siblings, in that order (§ 3101).
To complete the estate settlement process, the petitioner must file the Inventory (Form RW-09) and Inheritance Tax Return (REV-1500) with the Register of Wills within nine (9) months of the decedent’s death. The Inheritance Tax may be prepaid within three (3) months of the decedent’s death for a 5% tax discount (§ 2142).
A schedule of inheritance tax rates can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue website.