A small estate affidavit form is used by the heirs of a decedent for filing with the probate court and transferring title to assets, such as a bank account, according to Rocket Lawyer. It shows specific information about estate assets and their dollar value and who inherits the property under a decedent's will. If there is no will, state law determines who inherits the estate.
The property of a decedent becomes the property of his estate, which refers to all property a person owns at the time of his death, says Illinois Legal Aid. Beneficiaries typically inherit an estate property through a legal proceeding in probate court. This process is often time consuming and expensive, depending on the size of the estate and if the will is contested.
With a small estate affidavit, the probate court can learn the exact value of the assets of the deceased, making the probate process faster, Rocket Lawyer explains. It is used when a person's spouse or close relative died without a will and the person wants to finalize estate matters. A small estate affidavit is also used when a person is named the personal executor or representative of an estate that qualifies as a "small estate" under the law. A small estate is usually under $150,000 in the U.S., although the amount varies from one state to another.