What is a small estate affidavit and when is it used?

If a person dies and owns personal assets (bank accounts, certificate of deposits, brokerage accounts, a car or similar asset) which has a combined value of less than $100,000, instead of going thru the time, expense and delay of Probate, an interested person could use a Small Estate Affidavit to acquire control of the assets and pay the decedent’s bills and distribute the remainder to the decedent’s heirs at law.

A Small Estate Affidavit is just that, an affidavit sworn to under oath by an interested person that he/she will pay the outstanding debts of the decedent in order of their preference pursuant to the Illinois Probate Act and then distribute the remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs at law. The decedent’s heirs at law are also determined by the Illinois Probate Act. The affiant (person signing the affidavit) must attach a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate and certified copy of the decedent’s Will, if any to the Small Estate Affidavit. The affiant must also list all the decedent’s debts in order of preference and whether the funeral and related expenses have been paid.

Once completed, the affiant can take the signed and notarized Small Estate Affidavit to the third party holding the decedent’s assets and have the third-party holder pay the outstanding debts directly and then pay the remainder of funds to the affiant to disburse to the decedent’s heirs at law.

As you can see the use of a Small Estate Affidavit is a much more simplified process than Probate and thus takes less time than Probate and is considerably less expensive then Probate. But the use of a Small Estate Affidavit can ONLY be used if the combined assets of a decedent is LESS than $100,000.

If you have any questions regarding the use of a Small Estate Affidavit, please contact our office.