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When might a small estate affidavit be right for my situation?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2022 | Probate & Estate Administration |

People who have lost a loved one and are thinking about how to settle their affairs will often be concerned about what to do. Probate and estate administration can be confusing and, in the aftermath of a person’s death, it can be difficult to think about these issues in a clearheaded manner. Still, it must be done and there are certain factors that should be weighed to ease the process. There are circumstances where the decedent’s estate can be administered using a less complicated path than there would be with a large estate. Those with a small estate worth less than $50,000 can file a small estate affidavit. Understanding the law and how this works is key to achieving a positive result.

In what ways can a small estate be administered?

The petitioner in a case is called the “affiant.” That individual will be responsible for the decedent’s estate if the small estate affidavit is approved. To administer a small estate, the process can begin after 45 days have elapsed from the person’s death and there must not have been a petition to appoint a personal representative in that time-frame.

A person or persons who were named in the will or the next of kin if the person died intestate can file a small estate affidavit. A copy of the original will must be presented to the court to support the affidavit. In it, the debts left behind must be listed along with the entities owed. The property must be itemized and described with anyone who holds property listed. All people who are entitled to a share of the property must be listed with all their vital information. The 45 days does not need to be followed if a motion is filed and the court believes that there is good cause to reduce the waiting period.

Why would the small estate affidavit be useful?

A small estate affidavit simply shortens and simplifies the process to complete it faster and in a less expensive way. Probate and estate administration can be time consuming and complicated. This is especially true if there are significant assets and family members and heirs are in dispute over who gets what, how the will is constructed, what the decedent’s intentions were and more. Since a small estate is limited to less than $50,000, there is less to fight over and the duration for which the case can be completed will be less than it would be for a larger estate. This will also reduce the financial cost. The affiant still has various responsibilities that may include paying a bond, managing the estate, paying debts and ensuring property goes where the decedent intended.

Having assistance with a small estate affidavit can be imperative

The laws for probate and estate administration might sound complex, even if it is a small estate affidavit. Because obstacles can arise and people may face challenges as they strive to settle a loved one’s estate, it is important to be fully cognizant of the law and what can be done to make it easier. Regardless of age and personal circumstances, it is wise to know the various options available. Even if a small estate affidavit is not available, there are other strategies that can be used. Discussing the case with those who understand all areas of estate planning and probate can provide information and guidance to reach a positive result.