A small estate affidavit is an alternative to going through probate. There are a set of specific requirements which must be met to use a small estate affidavit, as well as various exempt properties that it cannot cover.
Generally, the times when a small estate affidavit is the best path forward are when the decedent did not leave a will, did not possess a substantial estate, or both. Probate can be a very expensive process, and if the decedent’s assets are not enough to justify that expense, a small estate affidavit also provides a more budget-friendly option.
What Are the Requirements for a Small Estate Affidavit?
As mentioned above, a list of requirements must be met for a small estate affidavit to be a valid option. These include the decedent dying without a will, the decedent leaving less than $75,000 in property (some property may be exempt from this figure), the value of the decedent’s assets being worth more than any debts, and the decedent owning their homestead as their only real property. Furthermore, the homestead must then be inherited by someone living with the decedent at the time of their death.
In addition, all heirs must be located and must sign the small estate affidavit, there can be no pending or completed applications for the appointment of a personal representative, and there must be no administration needed.
What Is Exempt From a Small Estate Affidavit?
Many types of property are exempt from a small estate affidavit. The first is the decedent’s homestead. The decedent’s pension, insurance benefits, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are also exempt. Assuming that they are for the use of the decedent’s immediate family, and have a value of up to $100,000 for a family and $50,000 for a single adult, other exempt items include:
- Home furnishings
- Farming equipment
- Tools used in a trade or profession
- Jewelry that does not exceed 25% of the monetary limits
- Sporting equipment
- Livestock and household pets
What Information Goes on a Small Estate Affidavit Form?
A small estate affidavit must contain the name and address of the decedent, their date of death, all known assets and liabilities of the estate, and the name and address of all those who will be distributing assets. All distributors must then sign it. The completed document must be filed with a probate court to ensure it is proper and legal.
Whether you believe the estate of a loved one may qualify for a small estate affidavit or if you need help with the process itself, your best option is to consult with an attorney. For all your probate needs, call us now at 281-771-0560.