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What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

Notary public signing document in office

When a person passes away and leaves behind an estate with little guidance, complications concerning the administration of their estate are likely to ensue. Ideally, the estate can avoid court and probate, and the inheritance process can be effectuated smoothly and efficiently. One way to avoid probate court when administering qualifying estates is to use a small estate affidavit. In this article, we discuss small estate affidavits and when they are appropriate. If you are the administrator or beneficiary of a small estate in the Chicago area, or if you have any questions about trust administration or probate, speak with one of our experienced Illinois probate and trust administration attorneys.

Benefits of a Small Estate Affidavit

A small estate affidavit is used to transfer assets in an estate to heirs without going through the lengthy and expensive probate process. For estates that are below $100,000 in the aggregate, estate executors or beneficiaries can fill out a form that lists pertinent information about the estate (including assets, heirs, debts, distribution, and information about the will, if applicable) and get the form notarized.

Once the form has been completed properly and notarized, with all appropriate documents attached, the affiant can give a copy of the form to the people or companies holding the decedent’s property that the affiant is seeking to transfer. The affidavit notifies these entities that they can release the property to the affiant. The executor can then simply transfer the property to the appropriate heirs, without the need to go to court.

Requirements for a Small Estate Affidavit

Small estate affidavits are reserved for estates below a certain threshold value. A small estate affidavit can be used regardless of whether the decedent had a will, but it cannot be used if the estate goes to probate. If there is a will, the executor of the estate can file a small estate affidavit. If there is no will, a beneficiary can file such an affidavit.

To qualify for a small estate affidavit, the following must be true:

  • The estate contains no real property
  • The total value of the assets in the estate is $100,000 or less
  • The court has not issued any letters of office permitting the executor to give away estate property
  • If there was a will, it was properly filed within 30 days of the decedent’s death
  • Any unpaid debts of the estate are listed on the affidavit, along with a promise to pay
  • The affiant is unaware of any fights concerning the will or inheritance
  • The affiant is either the executor or a beneficiary

Get Assistance With an Illinois Probate or Trust Administration Matter

If you have legal questions concerning the administration of a trust or estate in Illinois, get dedicated and considered legal help by contacting the Chicago trust administration lawyers at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle in Hoffman Estates at 847-310-0025 and in Des Plaines at 847-298-5030.

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