When a person dies, the things they own become part of their estate. The things they own are their assets. Their assets include money, property, and anything else they own.
The person who dies is the decedent. The people who receive the assets are beneficiaries.
The court process where this all happens is called probate. The probate process can take a lot of time, and cost a lot of money.
Using a small estate affidavit is faster and costs less money than going through the probate court.
Who can use a small estate affidavit?
A small estate affidavit can be used whether or not the decedent had a will. But it can’t be used if the estate goes to probate court.
If there is a will, the person who is named the executor of the estate can use the small estate affidavit. An executor is the person in charge of giving out the property left in a will. A beneficiary can also use the small estate affidavit if there is not a will.
To use a small estate affidavit, all of the following must be true:
- The total amount of personal property in the estate is worth $100,000 or less;
- The person who died did not own any real estate;
- A court has not given out any letters of office. Letters of office are given out by the probate court to the executor of an estate, giving them the power to give away property in the estate;
- If there is a will, it was filed with the clerk of the court in the county where the person lived within 30 days of the death;
- You are not aware of any fights relating to the will or to the heirs of the decedent; and
- If there are outstanding unpaid claims against the decedent other than funeral expenses, they are listed on the small estate affidavit, and the person who signs it promises to make sure they are paid.
If a person doesn't follow a small estate affidavit
If a person or company with property from an estate will not follow the instructions in a small estate affidavit, you can file a lawsuit to make them give you the property.