Small Estate Affidavits

A Small Estate Affidavit is a form that provides family members with a means of claiming a deceased relative’s personal property when no will was left behind (intestate). It is used as a legal workaround of the probate process – saving family members both time and money.

The majority of states provide their own official estate form for use in estate claiming – to download a state-specific form, select a state from the list below.

Small Estate Affidavits by State

What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit is a form used for circumventing probate, which is where a will is officially distributed in a court of law. Due to being such a lengthy and potentially costly process, heirs or distributees often elect for using an affidavit to collect the belongings of the family member that passed away.

Whether or not an affidavit is required to be notarized by an official Notary Public is dependent on the applicable state law. The process of notarization is used to prove the legality of an affiant’s signatures and confirms that the signer(s) had a full understanding of what they were signing, and why.

Common Terms

Affiant – The individual filing the affidavit. If an affiant is not specified in a will – the decedent’s spouse or children can often file.

Decedent – The family member that passed away, leaving their assets to be distributed.

Distributee / Heir – An individual authorized to collect a portion (or all) of the decedent’s personal property if a will was not left behind (intestate).

Estate – The net worth of a person. Includes land, assets, and other possessions an individual owned.

How to Use a Small Estate Affidavit

The Small Estate Affidavit can be a confusing form to use. Almost every state has considerably varying laws regarding the time that must pass (after the decedent has passed away) before signing, differing maximum estate values, and required conditions that specify when a small estate affidavit can and cannot be used. The general process for filing a small estate affidavit after the death of a family member is the following:

Calculate the Total Value of the Estate

To calculate the total monetary amount of an estate, start by adding up all the items that contribute positively towards the total assets. These include:

Intangible Personal Property

    • Banks Accounts (checking, savings, etc.)
    • Stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, etc.
    • Retirement plans
    • Percentage interests in businesses

Tangible Personal Property (anything that can be physically “touched”)

    • Motor vehicles, boats, motorcycles, etc.
    • Furniture & other homes items
    • Paintings, collectibles, coins

Complete a Small Estate Affidavit Form

Select a state-specific small affidavit from the list above. Due to each state’s unique requirements, completing the form for the state the decedent passed away in is is highly recommended. Once the form has been completed, all family member(s) listed on the affidavit should be informed of the portion of the property they rightly inherited by mail.

Sign the Affidavit

Depending on the state in which the affidavit is created, the form may need to be signed in the presence of two (2) witnesses and/or a Notary Public. Even if not required by the state, having the completed affidavit be notarized can not damage the legality of the affidavit in any way – it simply provides legal proof that the signature(s) recorded on the form were made willingly.

Obtain the Death Certificate

A death certificate is a government-issued document that states when an individual passed away, where they died, and their cause of death. It is used to legally prove the familial relationship of the distributees to the decedent in order to acquire rights to the property. If the decedent died with other possessions of significant value, such as a motor vehicle or boat, obtaining titles to said property should be done before submitting the affidavit.

File the Affidavit

With the signed affidavit in-hand along with the death certificate and any additional legal documents, the affidavit can be filed with the court. Once approved, the heirs will be given the authorization to collect the possessions of their deceased family member.

Small Estate Signing Requirements

STATEMAX. ESTATE VALUEMIN. ELAPSED TIMELAWS
Alabama$25,00030 days§ 43-2-692
Alaska$100,000 for Vehicles; $50,000 for Personal Property30 days§ 43-2-692
Arizona$75,000 for personal property
$100,000 for real property
30 days - personal property; or
6 months - real property
§ 14-3971
Arkansas$100,00045 days§ 28-41-101
California$150,00040 days§ 13000 - 13210
Colorado$69,000 (if died in 2019)
$66,000 (if died in 2017-2018)
10 days§ 15-12-1201
Connecticut$40,000No minimum time§ 45a-273
Delaware$30,00030 days§ 2306
Florida$75,000 [or] -->Two (2) years (if over $75,000)§§ 735.201 - 735.302
GeorgiaNo maximum value.90 days§ 7-1-239
Hawaii$100,000No minimum time§ 560:3-1201
Idaho$100,00030 days§ 15-3-1201
Illinois$100,000No minimum time755 ILCS 5/9-8
Indiana$50,00045 days§ 29-1-8-1
Iowa$100,000No minimum time§ 635.1 to § 635.13
Kansas$40,000No minimum time§ 59-1507b
Kentucky$15,000No minimum time§ 391.030 & § 395.455
Louisiana$125,000No minimum timeCCP 3421 to CCP 3434
Maine$20,00030 days18-A, Part 12
MarylandSpouses: $100,000; Non-spouses: $50,000No minimum time§§ 5-601 to 5-608
Massachusetts$25,00030 daysMGL c. 190B, Section 3-1201
Michigan$15,00028 days§ 700.3982
Minnesota$75,00030 days§ 524.3-1201
Mississippi$50,00030 days§ 91-7-322
Missouri$40,00030 days§ 473.097
Montana$50,00030 days§§ 72-3-1101 to 72-3-1104
Nebraska$50,00030 days§§ 30-24,127 to 30-24,129
NevadaSpouses: $100,000; Non-spouses: $25,00040 daysNRS 146.080
New Hampshire$10,000No minimum time§ 553:32
New Jersey$20,000;
Non-spouses: $10,000
No minimum time3B:10-3 & 3B:10-4
New Mexico$50,00030 days§ 45-3-1201
New York$30,000No minimum time§ 1301 to § 1312
North CarolinaSpouses: $30,000;
Non-spouses: $20,000
30 days§§ 28A-25-1 to 28A-25-7
North Dakota$50,00030 daysChapter 30.1-23
Ohio$100,000;
Non-spouses: $35,000
No minimum time§ 2113.03
Oklahoma$20,00010 days58 OS § 393 & 6 OS § 906
OregonReal property: $200,000;
Personal property: $75,000
30 days§§ 114.505 to 114.535
Pennsylvania$50,00060 days20 § 3102
Rhode Island$15,00030 days§ 33-24-1
South Carolina$25,00030 days§ 62-3-1201
South Dakota$50,00030 days§ 29A-3-1201
Tennessee$50,00045 days§§ 30-4-101 to 30-4-105
Texas$75,00030 days§ 205.001
Utah$100,00030 days§§ 75-3-1201 to 75-3-1204
Vermont$10,000No minimum time14 V.S.A. § 1902
Virginia$50,00060 days§§ 64.2-600 to 64.2-605
Washington$100,00040 daysRCW 11.62.010
West Virginia$100,000No minimum time§ 44-3A-5
Wisconsin$50,000No minimum time§ 867.03
Wyoming$200,00030 days§ 2-1-201

How to Write a Small Estate Affidavit

Step 1 – Download

Save the document in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word (.docx).