How To File A Small Estate Affidavit In 2023- Best Tips


Having troubles with speeding up the settlement for a small estate? Well here’s something that would interest you: it’s called a Small Estate Affidavit. Now let me explain it to you;

What Is A Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit is a form one can fill or complete in order to speed the settlement of a small estate through probate. It eliminates the need for a family member to go through a formal probate process.

The form is completed and filed in the local jurisdiction where the deceased passed and where the property is located.

A small estate affidavit allows surviving heirs to transfer property owned by the deceased without having to go through a long and sometimes very complex probate process after the descendant’s death.

Note: It is important to understand what property qualifies as part of a small estate. For example, vehicles are not included under some states small estate laws.

Related: WHAT IS AN ESTATE? A Complete Guide

When To Use A Small Estate Affidavit

A small estate affidavit can be used under the following conditions:

  • The family member passed on and the value of the estate’s assets meets the small estate requirements under state law; 
  • The person completing the small estate affidavit form must be the executor of the state.

Besides, a small estate affidavit is only used when there is no Last Will. However, some states may allow the use of small estate affidavits in conjunction with the Last Will depending on certain legal requirements. 

You should also consult with an attorney in the respective state where the final matters and questions on the estate will be resolved.

But only specific individuals can complete a small estate affidavit. These include;

  • Spouse.
  • Domestic partners.
  • Children (or guardians of minor children).
  • Parent of the deceased, if the deceased is a child without a spouse.

What Are The Information Needed To Complete A Small Estate Affidavit Form?

An attorney can provide a small estate affidavit form. You can also find free small estate affidavits by state online.

To complete the form you will need to provide the following information;

  • Your name.
  • Your address and mailing address if they are in different places.
  • Deceased information, name, date of passing, former address.
  • Asset list with description and values.
  • Confirmation of payment for all burial and funeral expenses.
  • List and details of any unpaid debts or claims.
  • Name and addresses of surviving spouse and children(if any).
  • Any other information required by the state.

How To File A Small Estate Affidavit

There are 6 steps on how to file a small estate affidavit, and here they are;

  • Wait for the state-required time period
  • Calculate the estate’s value
  • Gather the required documents
  • Complete the small estate affidavit
  • Contact family members (heirs)
  • File with the probate office.

#1. Wait for the state-required time period

Every state requires that the family members must wait a specified number of days before the small estate may be filled. Ranging from 15 to 60 days, the heirs can use this little time to gather an itemized list of the descendant’s assets and property.

If the state does not have specific laws then contact the probate court where the descendant died.

#2. Calculate the estate’s value

A small estate affidavit is for individuals that have died and did not own enough property or assets to qualify for probate under state laws.

#3. Gather the required documents

The death certificate must be obtained along with the title certificate of all the descendant property. For example, if a descendant owns a company, the company title certificate of title will be required.

#4. Complete the small estate affidavit

When completing, be sure to include the list of all the assets and property of the descendant that will be transferred to the heir.

When signing, the petitioner must either sign the form in front of a notary public or witness sometimes it involves both.

#5. Contact family members

All heirs, family members, or anyone that are entitled to the property must be aware of the small estate filing. Therefore the petitioner must contact them via Certified Mail with Return Receipt and keep the receipts as proof the individuals have been notified.

 #6. File with the Probate Office

Attached to the affidavit, the petitioner should have all the documents together with the filing fee. If accepted, the clerk will take approximately 5 to 15 days to process and accept or reject the filing.

Once accepted, The property and assets will be transferred to its new owner. Hence, the process is complete.

Small Estate Affidavit Florida

Unfortunately, Florida does not have a small estate affidavit process, with one exception, which means the family will likely need to consult a probate attorney to help gain control of the assets.

In order for the family/ heirs to take control of a descendant’s probate assets, Florida has three types of probate to discuss;

  • Formal Probate Administration: full-blown probate, going to court, need an attorney, generally used under most probates, taking 6 to 9 months under most circumstances.
  • Summary Probate: reserved for estates under $75,000 in very simple estates. This requires the services of an attorney due to complexity. A court order is also done.
  • Disposition without Administration: used in very specific situations, typically where the descendants’ funeral expenses are unpaid. 

Here, the family may go to the local probate court and file a petition to release funds held in a bank so that the petitioner can be reimbursed for paying the descendant’s funeral bill.

The court process is in all types of Florida probate. Though, each process are easier than the others. But just to let you know there is no affidavit in Florida that an heir can sign that will give that heir legal rights to estate assets- only the court can sign an order to this effect.

Learn about Buying A House In Florida

Small Estate Affidavit Tennessee

A Tennessee small estate affidavit is a document that allows a petitioner, known as the affiant, to claim part or all of the estate of a deceased individual, known as the descendant.

Tennessee small estate affidavit prevents the lengthy expensive probate procedure for estates worth less than $50,000. The affiant takes on the full responsibility of managing the descendant’s estate if approved by the court.

How To File Tennessee Small Estate Affidavit (4 steps)

  1. Wait forty-five days
  2. No personal representative
  3. Complete the paperwork
  4. File with the probate court

#1. Wait Forty-Five (45) Days

The affiant has to wait at least forty-five days after the descendant’s death before the probate court clerk will accept the filing.

#2. No Personal Representative

Confirm that there are no appointments or petitions for the role of the personal representatives of the estate. This is by searching the Tennessee Courts Public Case History.

#3. Complete the Paperwork

Gather and complete the following documents for filing :

  • Copy of the Descendants Will (if any, obtain through the Country and Municipal Records Archives)
  • Small Estate Affidavit

#4. File with the Probate Court

File the documents with the probate court to the descendant’s final permanent residence.

How Does A Small Estate Affidavit Work In Illinois?

In Illinois, a small estate affidavit is a legal document that allows a person’s property to be transferred when they die without going to court. When a person dies, their possessions become part of their estate. Their assets are the stuff they own. Their assets include cash, real estate, and whatever else they own.

Where Do I File A Small Estate Affidavit In Illinois?

You must file the Small Estate Affidavit and the Affidavit of Heirship with the clerk of the court at the probate court in the county where the deceased resided.

How Much Does It Cost To File A Small Estate Affidavit in Missouri?

The filing fee in most Missouri courts is $65, and you will also need to pay for publication and your lawyer. The fees will be slightly higher if there is a will to be admitted to Probate.

How Do I Get A Small Estate Affidavit In Colorado?

Form JDF 999 must be completed and notarized. This paper is not required to be submitted to the court, but it may be displayed to people who own personal property that belonged to the dead. The form grants the holder legal authority to collect the property.


A small estate affidavit is simply a legal document that authorizes one to claim assets after their loved one has passed, which would be in lieu.

FAQs on Small Estate Affidavit

Who signs a Small Estate Affidavit?

When a small estate affidavit is filed, it must be signed by the executor of the estate or by family members or legal heirs of the deceased.

What is considered a Small Estate?

The rules of determining whether an estate qualifies as a small estate vary by state. Meaning each state determines whether an estate in its region qualifies as a small estate.

Generally, state laws set a rule for maximum value for qualification.

Can a bank release funds without probate?

Banks will release up to a certain amount without requiring a probate grant. However, each financial institution has its limit that determines whether probate is needed or not.

How do I get a small estate affidavit?

You can get a small estate affidavit from a clerk’s office or you can simply get an attorney to prepare one.

What happens to bank accounts when someone dies without a will in florida?

If you die without a will in Florida, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state intestate succession laws.

Does a small estate affidavit need to be notarized?

The small estate affidavit need not to be notarized but it does need to be signed under penalty of perjury.

As far as you need to file it at the courthouse, it depends on what you want to use it for. Most of the time you simply need to provide it to whatever institution you are dealing with; it might be a bank.



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