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What is a small estate affidavit?

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | Estate Planning

When someone passes away, their estate may need to go through probate. This is the process of administering that estate, and it can be fairly complex for people with substantial assets or for those without an estate plan in place.

However, the laws have recently been updated in a way that can make this a bit simpler for those who have a small estate. They can use what is known as a  “small estate affidavit” if the total value of their estate is under $100,000.

How can this help?

For those who pass away with a small estate, the benefit for their family is that they may not need to go through the court process. This can speed things up because the court doesn’t have to make the decisions. It can also help the family save money and reduce expenses, which is most beneficial specifically for those who are dealing with low-value estates.

How does the procedure work?

Below are the five main steps taken when using a small estate affidavit:

  1. Observe the 45-day waiting period. 
  2. Draft the small estate affidavit. 
  3. Notify those who have a stake in the estate and expect to receive assets. 
  4. See a notary to have the affidavit notarized. 
  5. Collect the assets that are in that affidavit and distribute them.

For those with a larger estate, the court may need to go through this process, inventorying assets and then determining how they should be divided for the next generation. State law can be complex and may not provide an ideal outcome, however, so a small estate affidavit provides a way to get around this and quickly achieve the proper goals for the family. Those who are going through this process need to be aware of all the legal steps to take.