What Is a Small Estate Affidavit Used For?


Quick Answer

A small estate affidavit is a document from an inheritor of a piece of property under a state law or will that allows the inheritor to claim the property, according to Nolo. The affidavit is signed under oath and provided to the holder of the property, prompting its release.

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Full Answer

A small estate affidavit is a way for an estate to avoid probate altogether, if the estate value falls under the state's threshold for small estates, states Nolo. Most states have shortcuts to navigate through probate, or even allow an estate to avoid probate altogether. Each state has its own terms and rules, but if eligible, avoiding probate saves an estate a lot of time and money.

Generally, there are two shortcuts that allow estates to avoid probate. The first is the small estate affidavit, which prompts the holder of an asset or property that's to be inherited by someone to relinquish his rights by simply being furnished with the affidavit. The second is the simplified court procedure, which is a simple and faster version of probate. While this process still involves the probate court, it has less control over settling the estate. This process is so easy in some states it can be done without retaining a lawyer, says Nolo.

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