What is a small estate affidavit?

When a person dies with a small estate, beneficiaries and heirs can claim assets without having to go through probate

Elissa

By

Elissa Suh

Elissa Suh

Senior Editor & Disability Insurance Expert

Elissa Suh is a disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius, where she also covered wills, trusts, and advance planning. Her work has appeared in MarketWatch, CNBC, PBS, Inverse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more.

Updated|31 min read

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A small estate affidavit is a sworn written statement that authorizes someone to claim a decedent’s assets outside of the formal probate process. Small estate affidavits may go by a different name depending on where you live, like voluntary administration or affidavit in lieu of administration or even affidavit for collection of personal property.

After someone passes away, their assets become part of their estate, and a court process called probate is used to prove the validity of the will or determine heirs if there isn’t a will. For small estates that are valued less than a certain dollar amount, a simplified process can be used to avoid formal probate proceedings, which can save loved ones and heirs time and money.

To claim the decedent’s assets, a named executor in a will or legal heir heir can complete a small estate affidavit and present it to whomever holds the asset, like a bank or credit union. Some states require the affidavit to be filed in court first.

Using a small estate affidavit is limited to estates that are “small” — worth less than a certain value. Each state sets its own value limit and determines what assets count towards it. Estates are often limited to the decedent’s personal property, as opposed to real property, which is a building or land. These assets cannot typically be released to beneficiaries and heirs through the small estate affidavit process, but it depends on the state.

Key takeaways

  • A small estate affidavit is just a written legal document — you can get a small estate. affidavit from the county clerk’s office or have an attorney prepare one.

  • Administering the estate with an affidavit is one of the key ways to avoid probate.

  • The total value of an estate must less than a certain amount to qualify for the use of the small estate affidavit.

  • Notarizing a small estate affidavit may not be required by your state, but it is still a good idea to do it.

Before beginning the small estate process

If you want to settle a deceased person's estate with an affidavit, you need to make sure that it is legally possible first. You can do this by answering the following questions:

  • Does the deceased person’s estate qualify?

  • Was there a will?

  • Am I allowed to use the affidavit?

  • Has enough time passed?

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Figure out if the decedent had a small estate

Every state sets different rules about what qualifies as a small estate, which is defined by its dollar value. The collection of the decedent’s assets may need to be worth less than $50,000 to be considered small or may be able to be worth as much as $150,000, depending on the state law and what assets are counted. Generally, only probate assets are counted.

Personal property, like tangible belongings and bank and brokerage accounts without a proper beneficiary designation are counted toward the small estate value.

Jointly owned assets on the other hand are not; they are considered exempt property because they can be received outside of probate. Examples of other nonprobate assets are those with rights of survivorship or designated beneficiaries, like life insurance policies, payable-on-death accounts, and vehicles or property with a transfer-on-death deed (not allowed in every state).

Oftentimes owning land or real estate would disqualify an estate from being considered small, but a primary residence might be considered exempt in your state, which may also have simplified procedures for distributing real property.

Not using a small estate affidavit? Learn how to become executor of an estate and settle the estate a different way.

Determine whether or not there is a will

In some states, a small estate affidavit can only be used when the decedent died intestate (without a will), but in others the affidavit process is available even if the decedent had a valid last will and testament.

If there is a will, you may file it with the appropriate county clerk, but do not file for probate proceeding if you wish to use the affidavit. Administering the estate with an affidavit takes the place of formal probate, so the affidavit cannot be used if someone has already initiated probate, as by petitioning the court to act as personal representative.

→ Find out when a will must be probated

Who can use the small estate affidavit?

When the decedent died without a will, the affiant, or person who uses the affidavit, may be limited to the surviving spouse, heirs, or administrator. In some cases a creditor can get a small estate affidavit to recoup unpaid debt.

Make sure enough time has passed

Whoever intends to use a small estate affidavit may be required by state law to wait until a certain amount of time has passed since the decedent’s death, which can be as long as two months.

How to get a small estate affidavit

A small estate affidavit is just a written legal document. The probate court (which may be called surrogate court or superior court in your area) often provides a small estate affidavit form that anyone can complete on their own. If they don’t, you can ask an estate planning attorney to help prepare one. If you want to claim the deceased person’s bank account, the financial institution may also have an affidavit form that you use to claim their account there. These forms are limited to releasing assets only from that specific institution.

→ Learn how to avoid probate

Fill out the form

The small estate affidavit form requires basic information: names and addresses of the decedent and their descendants, including immediate family and relatives.

You will also need to list the assets you wish to claim, along with their value and details, like the bank account number, or motor vehicle number. You may also be required to disclose any debts and funeral expenses.

Attach necessary documents

The exact forms you need may vary by state but you'll most likely need to provide:

  • A copy of the death certificate

  • The original will or copy of a will (if it exists)

  • Documentation of the deceased’s assets (proof they owned them, like a stock certificate or bank statement)

  • Your driver’s license or other proof of identity

File the affidavit with the court, if necessary

What happens next in the affidavit process depends on the procedures in your state. In some states, you can simply bring the completed affidavit and the death certificate to whomever holds the assets and they will release them. But in other states, you need to first get approval from probate court, which may issue a more formal set of documents that you’ll use to claim the decedent’s assets. You can file the affidavit in person, by mail, or even online if your county allows, and you'll likely have to pay a fee. (It may be less expensive than a standard probate filing fee though.)

These papers or certificates from the court authorize the person filing the affidavit to settle the estate and might expire after a certain period of time. You may be able to update the forms after they expire (for another fee).

The affiant basically serves as a kind of informal executor, distributing assets to the proper beneficiary and in some cases even making sure that debts and funeral expenses are paid first.

→ Learn more about what an executor does

Does a small estate affidavit need to be notarized?

Many states require notarization of the small estate affidavit for it to be valid. But even if it isn’t required in your state you should consider notarizing, since some financial institutions will require it, and a notary seal in general can help prove the document's legitimacy so you don't encounter any hassle during the process of claiming and transferring the deceased's assets.

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Small estate affidavit by state

The affidavit procedure varies greatly according to state law, and you can consult this guide on how you and when you might be able to use it to settle an estate without probate in your state.

However, even if you expect to leave a small estate after you die, you would still benefit from writing a will. In most states, the small estate affidavit can be used in conjunction with the will to distribute the property according to its terms. Even if you anticipate having few valuable assets when you die, having a valid will can make the entire probate process easier for your beneficiaries. 

Alabama small estate affidavit

You can settle a small estate in Alabama through a simplified probate procedure known as summary distribution. This process is available for small estates that are worth less than $30,608 and do not contain real property. [1] (The small estate limit is reassessed to account for inflation every year; the $30,608 limit applies to deaths until the end of February 2022). You can file a petition with the probate court to get started after all funeral expenses have been paid and at least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death. 

Alaska small estate affidavit 

Estates can be administered without formal probate in Alaska by using an affidavit for the collection of personal property for assets worth less than $50,000 and vehicles worth less than $100,000. In Alaska, you must wait at least 30 days after the decedent has died to use the affidavit, which is not filed with the court, but should be notarized and presented directly to the asset holder. [2]

A simplified probate process can be used to administer small estates, whether or not the decedent died with a will. The estate must not be worth more than the total of: homestead property, exempt property, costs of administration (probate fees), funeral expenses, medical costs for the decedent’s last illness. You can file a petition with the court to get started.

Arizona small estate affidavit

You can settle a small estate in Arizona without formal probate using an affidavit if the estate meets certain conditions. The value of personal property must be under the small estate limit and at least 30 days must have passed since the decedent’s death. [3] In Arizona the small estate affidavit for collection of personal property does not need to be filed with the court, but it must be notarized.

The state also allows for the transferring of real property for small estates by affidavit. The real property must be valued below $100,000 and six months must have passed since the decedent’s death. This affidavit must be filed with the probate court. 

An estate can be settled through a simplified probate procedure called summary administration in Arizona, if the value of the estate does not exceed the total of: homestead property, exempt property, family allowance, cost of administration, funeral expenses, and medical expenses of the decedent’s last illness. To use this procedure you must file a petition with the court.

Arkansas small estate affidavit

An estate in Arkansas can be administered without formal probate if the value falls below $100,000. Homestead exemption and family allowances are not counted toward the limit. In Arkansas, the small estate affidavit is officially called an affidavit for collection of small estate by distributee and must be filed with the court after at least 45 days after the decedent’s death. [4]  

Filing this form allows the small estate to be settled without any administration, if the value is no more than what is owed to a surviving spouse and children (according to statutory allowances set by the state).

California small estate affidavit

A small estate affidavit In California can be used to collect and transfer the deceased’s personal property whether or not they died with a will. When calculating the gross value of the estate, you do not have to include cars, boats, manufactured homes, any pay from the armed forces or up to $16,625 in unpaid salary or compensation. The maximum value for small estates in California is reassessed periodically, but for people who died prior to April 1, 2022, their estates must not exceed $166,250 to qualify distribution without administration. [5]

You must wait at least 40 days after the decedent’s death to use a small estate affidavit in California, and it may need to be notarized, depending on the asset being claimed. You do not need to file the affidavit with the court. The state of California does not provide a standard affidavit form. If the decedent’s estate owned real estate, a separate affidavit is required to transfer it.

→ Learn more about California wills and probate

Colorado small estate affidavit

In Colorado, an affidavit for the collection of personal property can be used to administer the deceased’s estate if the estate is valued at $74,000 or less. [6] (This number is reassessed each year. The $74,000 limit is as of 2022.) You must wait at least 10 days to use the affidavit, which is not filed with the court, but must be notarized and presented directly to whoever owns the asset. The affidavit is available on Colorado's state court website

A separate affidavit must be used to claim the decedent’s vehicle. 

Connecticut small estate affidavit 

In Connecticut, small estates can be settled without formal probate if the estate falls below the state-designated limit ($40,000) and does not include real property. [7] File an affidavit in lieu of probate form with the court to get started. Upon approval, you can use the court order to claim the decedent’s assets.

→ Learn more about Connecticut wills and probate

Delaware small estate affidavit 

An estate in Delaware can be settled without court through an affidavit if the deceased’s estate is valued below $30,000 and contains no real property, and the estate has paid or provided for all debts and a surviving spouse’s allowance. At least 30 days must have passed before using the small estate affidavit in Delaware and it does not need to be filed with the court. [8]

District of Columbia small estate affidavit

You can settle a small estate without formal probate in D.C. whether or not there was a will, if the decedent’s estate was worth less than the $40,000 limit. [9] To do this, you must file a petition for administration of small estate with the superior court to act as personal representative. Settling a small estate this way should take no more than 120 days from the filing date.

Florida small estate affidavit 

In Florida, there are two ways of settling a small estate.

Very small estates can be settled with a procedure in Florida called disposition of personal property without administration. In order to qualify, an estate must contain only the following: exempt personal property (household furnishings up to $20,000, two vehicles, qualified tuition benefits, and teacher benefits), exempt homestead property, and any other property that doesn’t exceed the amount paid for funeral expenses or the decedent’s medical expenses for the last 60 days before death. You must file a petition with the court to get started. [10]

A simplified probate procedure called summary administration may be used if the value of the estate falls below $75,000 or more than two years have passed since the decedent’s death. File a petition with the court to get started.

→ Learn more about Florida wills and probate

Georgia small estate affidavit

Technically, Georgia doesn’t have a small estate affidavit procedure. Instead, you may be able to settle an estate without going through formal probate regardless of the size of the estate. If the decedent died intestate, you can settle the estate outside of the court by getting permission from all heirs and filing a petition for order declaring administration unnecessary. [11]

Additionally, according to Georgia finance law, an inheritor can claim money in a decedent’s bank account up to $15,000 using an affidavit. (The decedent must have died without a will.)

→ Learn more about Georgia wills and probate

Hawaii small estate affidavit

An estate can be administered in Hawaii using an affidavit for collection of personal property if the gross value falls under $100,000 and the estate has no personal representative. The affidavit must be notarized in Hawaii before it can be presented to whoever holds the decedent’s assets. [12]

You can also opt for the court clerk to administer the estate for a fee (of 3% of the first $100,000 in the gross estate). If you choose this procedure, assets will not be disbursed until 60 days have passed if the gross estate value is less than $10,000, or until four months have passed if the estate value is greater than $10,000.

An estate can be settled with an informal probate procedure called summary administration, if the value of the estate is only the total of: exempt personal property, homestead property, family allowance, the cost of funeral expenses, reasonable and necessary medical expenses of the last illness of the decedent. You can start by filing a petition with the court.

Idaho small estate affidavit

An affidavit can be used to release a decedent’s assets if the estate is valued under $100,000. In Idaho, the small estate affidavit cannot be used for real estate and does not need to be filed with the court. [13]

An estate can be settled with an informal probate procedure called summary administration, if the value of the entire estate does not exceed homestead allowance, exempt property, costs and expenses of administration, reasonable funeral expenses, and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent, then it can be settled through a summary administration procedure. 

Illinois small estate affidavit 

An affidavit can be used to dispose of a decedent’s personal property whether or not they died with a will in Illinois if the estate is valued below $100,000 and does not include real property. [14] The small estate affidavit in Illinois is not filed with the court, but notarized and presented directly to whoever holds the asset.

Small estates that also consist of real property may be settled through summary administration. Using this simplified probate procedure requires petitioning the court and getting written consent from all heirs. 

→ Learn more about Illinois wills and probate

Indiana small estate affidavit

In Indiana, a small estate affidavit can be used to disburse the deceased’s estate if it only contains personal property and the gross value falls below $50,000, and at least 45 days have passed since the decedent’s death. [15] In Indiana, a small estate affidavit does not need to be filed with the court. Notarization is not explicitly required, but may be useful and save time. 

Small estates that also have real estate may be settled through this simplified probate process by petitioning the court. 

Iowa small estate affidavit

If at least 40 days have passed since the decedent’s death, a small estate affidavit can be used in Iowa to distribute personal property. The affidavit cannot be used if the estate contains real property or if the value of the estate exceeds $50,000, and in Iowa the small estate affidavit does not need to be filed with the court. [16]

Small estates valued below $100,000 can also file for a simplified probate process, known as small estate administration, whether or not the decedent died with a will. Petition the court to start.

Kansas small estate affidavit

Personal property can be distributed with a small estate affidavit, which does not need to be filed with the court in Kansas, but should be notarized. To be considered a small estate, the estate must not be valued at more than $40,000. [17]

Kansans’ small estates may forgo formal administration through simplified probate depending on the following, as determined by a court: size of the estate; the degree of kinship of the heirs, devisees and persons seeking appointment; the solvency of the estate; the nature of the estate; the wishes of the heirs and devisees; the probable cost of estate administration and settlement; and any other pertinent matters.

Kentucky small estate affidavit

Regardless of whether the decedent died with a will, a surviving spouse or child can settle an estate without formal probate in Kentucky by filing a petition to dispense with administration, form AOC-830. The estate must not be valued at more than $30,000. [18]

Louisiana small estate affidavit

You can administer an estate through a procedure known as small succession in Louisiana, whether or not the decedent had a will. The estate must be valued below the threshold of $125,000, and its only sole heirs must be the decedent's heirs, or the decedent must have been dead for over 20 years. [19] In Louisiana, this procedure is called using an affidavit for small succession, which is not filed with the court, but notarized and presented to whoever holds the asset.

Maine small estate affidavit

In Maine, a small estate affidavit can be used to bypass formal administration and collect the decedent’s assets valued under $40,000. You must wait at least 30 days after the decedent’s death to use the affidavit, and it does not need to be filed with the court. [20]  

Estates can also be settled through summary administration in Maine. The value of the entire estate must not exceed the total of homestead allowance ($22,500), exempt property ($15,000), family allowance, costs of administration, reasonable funeral expenses, and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent.

→ Learn more about Maine wills and probate

Maryland small estate affidavit

An estate can be settled without formal probate in Maryland when its value falls below the threshold determined by state law, whether or not the decedent died with a will. That threshold is $50,000, or $100,000 when a surviving spouse is the sole heir or legatee. [21] To get started, you must file a small estate petition for administration with the court, which will assign you letters for claiming the property.

Massachusetts small estate affidavit

An estate can be settled without formal probate in Massachusetts, regardless of whether there was a will, through a procedure called voluntary administration. The decedent’s estate must not be valued at more than $25,000 or include real estate, and 30 days must have passed since the decedent’s death. Cars are excluded from the valuation. You can get started by filing a voluntary administration statement with the Massachusetts probate court.

→ Learn more about Massachusetts wills and probate

Michigan small estate affidavit

In Michigan, small estates can be administered through an affidavit if they only consist of personal property and not land or real estate, and if they are not valued at more than $25,000 (as of 2022). You must wait 28 days to use this affidavit, which isn’t filed with the court but must be notarized and presented directly to the asset holder. [22] The Michigan state court provides its own small estate affidavit form. A small estate that contains real estate can be administered by filing for an assignment of property.

Minnesota small estate affidavit 

If at least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death, a small estate affidavit can be used in Minnesota to distribute personal property (the estate should not contain real property). In Minnesota the affidavit does not need to be filed with the court, but it must be notarized. To qualify, the estate must not exceed a value of $75,000. [23]

Mississippi small estate affidavit

A small estate affidavit can be used to disburse the deceased’s estate in Mississippi if it only contains personal property, and the value falls below $75,000. To use a small estate affidavit in Mississippi you must wait until at least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death, and while the affidavit does not need to be filed with the court, it must be notarized if not. [24]

If a decedent has a small estate and real property, which was bequeathed in a will, the estate can be settled through muniment of title without formal probate. All beneficiaries named in the will must sign a petition with the court.

Missouri small estate affidavit

In Missouri, small estates can be settled without formal probate if the estate falls below $40,000 and does not include real property. The small estate affidavit must be filed with the court, which will provide copies for you to use to claim the decedent’s assets. You can use a small estate affidavit whether or not the decedent died with a will, but you must wait until after 30 days after their passing and only as long as no one has applied to represent the estate as executor. [25]

Montana small estate affidavit

Montana estates under $50,000 can be administered without going through formal probate. An affidavit for the collection of personal property is used to distribute assets after at least 30 days after the decedent’s death. In Montana, a small estate affidavit does not need to be filed with the court, but you must have it notarized if not. [26]  

Estates can also be settled through small estate summary administration in Montana. The total value of the entire estate must not exceed homestead allowance ($22,500), exempt property ($15,000), family allowance, costs of administration, funeral expenses, and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent.

Nebraska small estate affidavit 

You can settle a Nebraska estate without going through formal probate if it’s worth under $50,000 by using an affidavit for transfer of personal property. You must wait at least 30 days after the decedent’s death and only as long as no one has applied to become personal representative. The affidavit must be notarized before presenting it to whoever holds the asset. [27]

Nevada small estate affidavit

You can settle a small estate in Nevada and avoid probate procedures whether or not there was a will. The limits for what qualifies as a small estate differs depending on how you’re related to the decedent: $100,000 if you’re settling the estate as a surviving spouse, and $25,000 if you’re not. Additionally, the estate must not include real property. The affidavit, which can only be used after 40 days have passed since the decedent’s death, does not need to be filed with the court but must be notarized.  [28]

New Hampshire small estate affidavit

New Hampshire doesn’t have a procedure for settling an estate with a small estate affidavit.

Estates can avoid probate in New Hampshire by getting a waiver of full administration, which is only allowed under certain circumstances: [29]

  • If the decedent died with a will, and the sole beneficiary and named executor is either a surviving spouse, only child, parent(s), or trust

  • If the decedent died intestate, the waiver can be used if the sole heir and appointed administrator is either a surviving spouse, child, or parent(s). 

New Jersey small estate affidavit

An estate can be settled without formal probate in New Jersey when its value falls below the threshold determined by state law, which is $50,000 if there was a surviving spouse who wants to use the affidavit, and $20,000 for all other qualified heirs. The affidavit can be used whether or not there was a will, but it must first be filed with the Surrogate’s Court. [30]

→ Learn more about New Jersey wills and probate

New Mexico small estate affidavit

If you’re a qualified heir, you can use a small estate affidavit in New Mexico to claim personal property when the estate is valued below $50,000. The small estate affidavit doesn’t need to be filed with a court, but it must be notarized if not. You must wait at least 30 days after the decedent’s death to use the small estate affidavit. [31]

Estates can also be settled through summary administration in New Mexico. The total value of the entire estate must not exceed family allowance, personal property allowance, costs and expenses of administration, reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the deceased, and reasonable funeral expenses.

New York small estate affidavit

Regardless of whether or not someone died with a will, small estates in New York can be settled without formal probate when they only consist of personal property and not real property (real estate or land), as long as the value of the estate doesn’t exceed $50,000. If the decedent owned real estate, a probate proceeding must be initiated. Using a small estate affidavit procedure in New York is called “small estate voluntary administration” and you must file a petition with the court to begin. (The New York court website provides a free form you can use.) Once the court approves the petition, they will send you letters of voluntary administration so you can begin administering the estate.

→ Learn more about New York wills and probate

North Carolina small estate affidavit

In North Carolina, you can use an affidavit to claim a decedent’s assets that you’re entitled to outside of probate, whether or not there was a will, if the decedent’s estate was worth less than the $20,000 limit. To do this, you must file an affidavit for collection of personal property with the local court at least 30 days after the decedent has passed away. [32]

North Dakota small estate affidavit

You can use an affidavit to claim assets you’re entitled to (as an heir or beneficiary) outside of probate in North Dakota, whether or not there was a will, if their estate was worth less than the $50,000 and did not contain real property (real estate or land). North Dakota does not require that the affidavit be filed with the court, but you must get it notarized, and you must wait until at least 30 days after the decedent’s death to use it. [33]  

Ohio small estate affidavit

Ohio does not have a procedure for claiming assets through a small estate affidavit, but estates worth less than a certain amount don’t have to go through formal probate. They can be settled by petitioning the court for a release from estate administration. There are two types of release and forms are provided by the Ohio Supreme Court. [34]  

With a standard release, the estate value must be valued below $35,000 if there is no surviving spouse, or below $100,000 if there is a surviving spouse who is the sole heir. The petition form must be filed with the court. For even smaller estates in Ohio — less than $40,000 if there is a surviving spouse, or $5,000 if there is no surviving spouse — a summary release procedure can be used instead. File a petition with the court to begin.

Oklahoma small estate affidavit

You can use an affidavit to claim a decedent’s assets outside of probate in Oklahoma, whether or not there was a will, if their estate was worth less than the $50,000. Oklahoma state law requires the affidavit to be filed with the court or signed in the presence of a notary, but you must wait until at least 10 days after the decedent’s death to use it. [35]  

When the decedent has been deceased for more than five years, or their estate is worth less than $200,000, you can settle the estate through a simplified probate procedure called summary administration. To get started you must file a written request with the court.  

Oregon small estate affidavit

Oregon allows small estates to be administered with an affidavit whether or not the decedent died with a will, and estates must be worth under a certain value in order to qualify. For personal property, the limit is $75,000, and for real property (land and real estate) the limit is $200,000. You must wait until 30 days after the decedent’s death to begin the process by filing the small estate affidavit with the Oregon court system. [36]

Pennsylvania small estate affidavit

You can administer a small estate in Pennsylvania by filing a petition with the court if the gross estate value is less than $50,000 and does not include real estate. Upon approval, the court will issue an official order so that you can begin to settle the estate. The small estate procedure in Pennsylvania can be used whether or not the decedent left behind a will, but the decision can be revoked within one year if another claimant successfully petitions the court. [37]

→ Learn more about Pennsylvania wills and probate

Rhode Island small estate affidavit

Regardless of whether or not there was a will, you can settle a decedent’s estate in Rhode Island if it only contained personal property and no real property (real estate or land) and is valued at $15,000 or less. Using a small estate affidavit in Rhode Island is called voluntary informal administration and you must wait until at least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s to file a petition with the court to begin the process. Filing the petition is mandatory, and the Rhode Island courts provide the necessary forms on their website. [38]

South Carolina small estate affidavit

If at least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death, a South Carolina small estate affidavit can be used to distribute their personal property to the proper beneficiaries or heirs, as long as the value of the estate does not exceed $25,000. The affidavit must be filed with and approved by the probate court before presenting to the holder of the asset. [39]   

South Dakota small estate affidavit

You can use a small estate affidavit in South Dakota, if the decedent’s estate falls below $50,000 in value, to distribute personal property to the proper beneficiaries or heirs. You must wait until at least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death, and they must not owe any nursing home or medical debts to the Department of Social Services. [40]

Tennessee small estate affidavit

A small estate affidavit can be used to settle a decedents’ estate in Tennessee regardless of whether there is a will, as long as the value of the estate is $25,000 or less. Tennessee small estate affidavits must be filed with the court for approval before you can collect the decedent’s personal property — you cannot use the affidavit for real property, and it is not included when calculating the value of the estate for the purpose of using a small estate affidavit. [41]

Texas small estate affidavit

A small estate affidavit In Texas can only be used to settle intestate estates, when there is no will, and the estate was worth less than $75,000. The homestead and other exempt property (like home furnishings, family heirlooms, clothes, athletic and sporting equipment, up to two firearms, a limited amount of jewelry, and a vehicle for each family member) are not included when calculating the estate value for the purpose of using a small estate affidavit to claim property. [42]  

You must wait at least 30 days after the decedent’s death to use the small estate affidavit, which must be witnessed by two disinterested parties, and then filed with and approved by the Texas probate court. 

Texas offers a unique probate procedure called muniment of title, which may allow your heir to receive real property without the administration of the estate. While the court must still prove the will, if there are no unpaid debts, besides a mortgage or other real property liens, then the court may allow the real property to be transferred to the person filing the muniment of title. 

→ Learn more about Texas wills and probate

Utah small estate affidavit

In Utah, if at least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death, a small estate affidavit can be used to distribute the decedent’s personal property to the proper beneficiaries or heirs. The affidavit does not need to be filed with the court, but it must be notarized if not, and presented to the holder of the asset. Utah defines a small estate for this purpose as one valued at $100,000 or less. [43]

You can not transfer more than four boats, vehicles, trailers, or semi-trailers with the affidavit. 

Small estates in Utah can also be settled via a simplified probate procedure called summary administration if the value of estate does exceed the combined value of the homestead allowance, family allowance, exempt property, administration costs, reasonable funeral expenses and necessary medical expenses of the decedent’s last illness.

Vermont small estate affidavit

Small estates in Vermont can be settled outside of formal probate whether or not the decedent left behind a will, if the estate qualifies as small, doesn’t contain real estate, and the only beneficiaries or heirs are spouse, children, and relatives. The estate also cannot be valued at more than $45,000. To get started, you can file a petition to open a small estate with the court and upon receiving letters of administration, you will begin administering the estate. [44]  

Virginia small estate affidavit

In Virginia, if at least 60 days have passed since the decedent’s death, a small estate affidavit can be used to distribute the decedent’s personal property to the proper beneficiaries or heirs. The affidavit does not need to be filed with the court, but it must be notarized if not, and presented to the holder of the asset. (These assets include bank accounts, brokerage accounts, or other financial instruments, and tangible personal property.) The entire probate estate must be worth less than $50,000 to use the affidavit. [45]  

Additionally, small assets can be distributed to a successor without an affidavit in Virginia if the asset is worth less than $25,000 and certain qualifications are met. 

Washington small estate affidavit

A small estate affidavit can be used to distribute a decedent’s personal property in Washington state when at least 40 days have passed since the decedent’s death, and the value of the estate falls below $100,000 (excluding community property). The affidavit is presented directly to whoever holds the asset. [46]

Washington allows estates to be administered with a simplified probate procedure without court intervention. You can only petition the court for this procedure if the estate is solvent and you’re the personal representative named in a will — or the surviving spouse, if there was no will and there are no other heirs. 

→ Learn more about Washington wills and probate

West Virginia small estate affidavit

West Virginia allows small estates to be administered with an affidavit outside of formal probate whether or not the decedent died with a will, and estates must be worth under a certain value in order to qualify. West Virginia’s small estate limit for personal property is $50,000, and its limit for real property (land and real estate) is $100,000. [47]  

If the decedent left behind a will, a named executor must wait at least 30 days after the decedent’s to file the affidavit with the court. If there was no will, or someone other than a named executor wants to begin the small estate procedure, they must wait at least 60 days. The court will issue a certificate upon approval.

Wisconsin small estate affidavit

Small estates can be administered without formal probate in Wisconsin through an affidavit whether or not the decedent left behind a will, as long as the value of the estate does not exceed $50,000. Only the decedent’s heir, guardian, trustee, or personal representative can use the affidavit, which does not have to be filed with the court but presented to whoever holds the asset. If the decedent ever received medical services, including long-term care, covered by the state, then the affidavit must also be provided to the Wisconsin department of health. [48]

Using the affidavit to transfer real estate requires notifying the deed office as well as all of the decedent’s heirs at least 30 days before.

You can also settle a small estate through a simplified probate procedure called summary settlement. An inheritor can file a petition with the court to get started.

Wyoming small estate affidavit

In Wyoming, if at least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death, a small estate affidavit can be used to distribute the decedent’s personal property to the proper beneficiaries or heirs and without probate. The estate is considered a small estate if its value is less than $200,000. [49]

The affidavit can be used whether or not the decedent left behind a will, and it must be filed with the Wyoming court for approval first. 

You can also settle a small estate in Wyoming through a simplified probate procedure called summary distribution. The personal representative can file a petition with the court to get started.