Small Estate Affidavit – A Brief Explanation For You In 2021
It is indeed a sad event when someone dies. But isn’t it even more stressful when you have to go through a lot of drama to claim your assets? I mean, something that rightfully belongs to you, that should be yours, right? But, that doesn’t always happen. That’s why people nowadays prepare small estate affidavits so that after they pass away, their loved ones don’t have to face much hassle in reclaiming their assets.
The legal process to reclaim a dead family member’s assets is to go through probate. But, probate is unnecessarily lengthy, and that sometimes ends up frustrating a lot of people. So, if you want to claim your family member’s assets after they die faster, you can come up with the option of a small estate affidavit.
What Is A Small Estate Affidavit?
If you go through an affidavit definition, you’ll see that it’s a sworn written statement that makes someone authorized to claim the departed’s assets without the probate process.
When someone dies, the estate becomes responsible for handling their properties. Therefore, even if the person has made a will that dictates the names of its beneficiaries, the probate process becomes mandatory. During the probate, the court determines the will’s validity and sees if the heirs are legit or not.
There’s a much simpler process called ‘small estate affidavit for small estates that hold a lesser value.’ So, to claim the decedent’s assets, the heir can complete the small estate affidavit and pass it to the person who is currently possessing it. Although, in some states, the small estate affidavits have to be filed in the courts first, you can also get them from the probate courts and fill them out.
If your property has a lesser valuation, you can opt for small estate affidavits. Different states have different value limits towards these assets. In most cases, a decedent’s personal properties stay in line in small estate affidavits rather than the fundamental properties like a house or land.
Where Do I Get A Small Estate Affidavit?
Usually, people go to the probate courts to get the forms of small estate affidavits and fill them out. If you are unfamiliar with this name, there may be other terms in your state to describe this concept. For example, some states call it voluntary administration, while others call it an affidavit in lieu of administration.
But, before you go to the probate courts for the appropriate documentation, you must figure out three things-
- First, Check if the deceased person’s estate is eligible for a small estate affidavit or not. In some states, the court qualifies a property for small estate affidavits if less than $50,000. However, in some other states, if the property valuation is as much as $1,50,000, it qualifies for small estate affidavits.
- Second, you must check if there is a will or not. If the decedent did not leave a will, some states don’t even consider the option of small estate affidavits. Then again, some states consider the affidavit option even if the person did not leave a will.
- Thirdly, and finally, you must consider if enough time has passed or not. This is a common consideration for all states. At least 30 days must pass after the decedent’s death before you file for a small estate affidavit. But, some states may make you wait for two months also before you file for one affidavit.
How To Apply For A Small Estate Affidavit?
You may also get a small estate affidavit form from a financial institution if you are trying to claim the deceased person’s bank account. However, there are some steps to apply for small estate affidavits;
Step 1: Fill The Form
The small estate affidavit form is straightforward. You just need to put the name and address of the deceased individual. You must also mention the names and addresses of the immediate relatives of the dead people. Along with that, you must enlist the assets that you want to claim, including their valuation. For example, if you’re going to acquire the decedent’s car, you must mention its market price and registration number in the form.
Step 2: Attach The Documents
The documents that you need to attach with the form may vary from one state to another. But, on more familiar ground, the original or photocopy of the death certificate is mandatory to attach with the form. You must also submit the documentation of the deceased’s assets like a bank statement or stock certificate to prove that they owned them. In addition, you should also submit your identity proof.
Step 3: Go To The Court
Once all your documents are in place, you need to bring them to the probate court. The court will issue a formal document that will qualify you to claim those assets. But, you must take those documents to the person who currently possesses the assets immediately because they have an expiry date.
It is the usual procedure of applying for small estate affidavits. But, in some states, once you fill the form and attach the documents, you can directly take them to the current possessor. You don’t need to go to the probate court at all. Once you take the documents to the possessor, they will release the assets.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Have you got a complete idea of what a small estate affidavit is? In that case, you may choose to skip this section. But, if you have some other questions in mind, you can look at the FAQ section because we have handpicked some other questions here for you.
1: What Happens After You File A Small Estate Affidavit?
Ans: When you file a small estate affidavit, you have to pay the money the decedent owed to others. For example, if the deceased person owed money to the credit card company, you must repay that. But, you won’t pay it from your pocket. Instead, you will use the estate money that you will receive after your affidavit is approved.
2: What Is The Difference Between An Affidavit Of Heirship, And A Small Estate Affidavit?
Ans: When you file for an affidavit of heirship, you swear that the deceased individual did not have any unpaid debts by the time he was dead. However, when you file for a small estate affidavit, there may be some unpaid medical bills or credit card bills, which you will pay for. But, the proceedings of small estate affidavits occur in probate courts, and the property has to meet the requirements of a small estate.
3: Does A Small Estate Affidavit Need To Be Notarized?
Ans: When you notarize a document, you assure that the record is credible and authentic. But, you don’t need to notarize a small estate affidavit. It simply needs to be signed by the probate court under penalty of perjury. But, many states may require the document to be notarized.
We have given you ample information on small estate affidavits in this article. Starting from the affidavit definition till its application process-we have covered all the areas. But, whatever requirements we have mentioned here will vary from one state to another, so keep that in mind before filing for one such affidavit. If you have any other queries, please let us know in the comment section.