A small estate affidavit is used to take possession of assets that may rightfully belong to you upon the deceased’s death while avoiding a lengthy and costly probate process.
The legal document contains a sworn statement allowing someone to claim the assets of someone who has died legally. Small estate claims may include items with sentimental value to surviving heirs that aren’t overwhelmingly valuable.
An estate is only considered “small” if the deceased’s assets are valued below a certain amount, differing from state to state. In addition, some states only allow the use of a small estate affidavit if the person dies without a will, so check your state’s requirements below before you begin creating your affidavit.
Small Estate Requirements by State
All states have a limit on the total value of assets (maximum value). If the total value of all assets to be distributed is larger than the maximum value listed, you cannot use a small estate affidavit.
|State||Max Estate Value||Min Required Wait Time||Non-transferrable Assets||Legal Code|
|Alabama||$34,611 (for 2023)||30 days||Real property||§ 43-2-692(1)|
|Alaska||$100,000 (motor vehicles); $50,000 (personal property)||30 days||Real property||
|Arizona||$100,000 (real property); $75,000 (personal property)||30 days||-||
|California||$184,500||40 days||Real property||Section 13100|
|Colorado||$70,000||10 days||Real property||C.R.S. 15-12-1201|
|Connecticut||$40,000||N/A||Real property||Sec. 45a-273|
|Delaware||$30,000||30 days||Real property||§ 2306|
|District of Columbia||$40,000||N/A||-||§ 20-303|
|Florida||Typically $75,000, but varies by county||N/A||-||Chapter 735 (Probate Code: Small Estates)|
|Georgia||N/A||N/A||-||§ 53-2-40, § 7-1-239, § 7-1-239.1|
|Hawaii||$100,000||N/A||Motor vehicles||§ 560:3-1202|
|Idaho||$100,000||30 days||Real property and motor vehicles||§ 15-3-1201|
|Illinois||$100,000||N/A||-||755 ILCS 5/ (Probate Act of 1975|
|Indiana||$100,000||45 days||Real property||§ 29-1-8-1|
|Iowa||$50,000||40 days||Real property||§ 635.1 to § 635.13|
|Kansas||$40,000||N/A||Real property||§ 59-1507b|
|Kentucky||$30,000||-||§ 391.030, § 395.455|
|Louisiana||$125,000||90 days||-||CCP 3421, 3434|
|Maine||$40,000||30 days||Real property||18-C, Article 3, Part 12|
|Maryland||$100,000 for spouse
$50,000 for children
|N/A||-||Estates and Trusts § 5-601 to 5-608|
|Massachusetts||$25,000||30 days||Real property||MGL c. 190B, Section 3-1201|
|Michigan||$24,000||28 days||Real property||Section 700.3982|
|Minnesota||$75,000||30 days||Real property||§ 524.3-1201|
|Mississippi||$75,000||30 days||-||§ 91-7-322|
|Missouri||$40,000||30 days||-||§ 473.097|
|Montana||$50,000||30 days||Real property||Section 72-3-1101 to 72-3-1104|
|Nebraska||$50,000||30 days||Motor vehicles||§ 30-24,125|
|Nevada||$100,000 for spouse
$25,000 for other heirs
|40 days||Real property||NRS 146.080|
|New Hampshire||N/A||N/A||-||Section 553:32|
|New Jersey||$50,000 for spouse
$20,000 for other heirs
|N/A||Real property||Sections 3B:10-3 & 3B:10-4|
|New Mexico||$50,000||30 days||Real property||Section 45-3-1201|
|New York||$50,000||N/A||Real property||§ 1301 to § 1312|
|North Carolina||$20,000 for spouses $30,000 for non-spousal heirs||30 days||-||§ 28A-25-1 to 28A-25-7|
|North Dakota||$50,000||30 days||Real property||Chapter 30.1-23|
|Ohio||$100,000 for spouse
$35,000 for other heirs
|Oklahoma||$50,000||10 days||Motor vehicles||58 OS § 393 & 6 OS § 906|
|Oregon||$200,000 (real property)
$75,000 (personal property)
|30 days||-||§ 114.505 to 114.535|
|Pennsylvania||$50,000||N/A||Real property||Statute 20 § 3102|
|Rhode Island||$15,000||30 days||Real property||§ 33-24-1|
|South Carolina||$25,000||30 days||Real property||Section 62-3-1201|
|South Dakota||$50,000 (real property)
$100,000 (personal property)
|30 days||-||Section 29A-3-1201|
|Tennessee||$50,000||45 days||Real property||Section 30-4-101 to 30-4-105|
|Texas||$75,000||30 days||Real property||Sec. 205.001(3)|
|Utah||$100,000||30 days||-||§ 75-3-1201 to 75-3-1204|
|Vermont||$45,000||N/A||-||14 V.S.A. § 1902|
|Virginia||$50,000||60 days||-||§ 64.2-600 to 64.2-605|
|Washington||$100,000||40 days||-||Section 11.62.010|
|West Virginia||$100,000 (real property)
$50,000 (personal property)
|30 days (if decedent died testate)
60 days (if intestate)
|Real property||§ 44-3A-5|
|Wyoming||$200,000||30 days||-||§ 2-1-201|
When Is a Small Estate Affidavit Needed?
This form is needed primarily (but not exclusively) when the deceased individual has:
- No last will and testament to their name.
- Less than $ 5,000 – $175,000 in assets to distribute (depending on the state).
A small estate affidavit helps quicken or eliminate the probate process — an event that often prolongs the pain of losing someone close to you.
How to Fill Out a Small Estate Affidavit
Aside from including basic information, such as the name and address of you and the decedent, you must carry out the following when filling out a small estate affidavit:
- Confirm when the decedent passed away — You must verify the date of death and the city and state where the decedent passed away. You can find this information on their official death certificate.
- Attest whether the decedent died intestate or testate — Some states permit this procedure only if there is no will, while others allow both. If there was a will, make sure you have a copy. Whoever (if anyone) is named as the executor of that will is the person who should file this form.
- Indicate whether there are outstanding funeral expenses — If the decedent’s funeral expenses haven’t been paid in full, you must provide the amount owed and a description of the costs.
- Provide information on any additional claims against the estate – If the decedent left behind any outstanding debts, the estate must settle those debts, and the creditors must be paid in full, to the extent there are assets in the estate to satisfy such obligations. You can pass the value of any remaining assets to the heirs identified in the affidavit afterward.
- List any surviving heirs to the decedent — Heirs include close relatives and spouses who could rightfully claim ownership of the deceased’s assets and property.
- Outline the decedent’s personal property being distributed, if any – A thorough description of the personal property being distributed (excluding real property in certain states) and the total value of that property must be included in the small estate affidavit. Private property would consist of anything other than real property, such as vehicles or general possessions like jewelry or clothing.
- Describe the decedent’s property being distributed, if any — If you’re claiming a transfer of ownership, you must provide a complete description and dollar amount of said property. Real property means any house or land requiring a deed or title to be transferred. Not all states permit the transfer of real property through this form.
Suppose the estate assets are insufficient to pay the debts of the decedent or the estate. In that case, an heir will not (except in rare situations such as fraudulent transfers) be responsible for paying those debts.
Affidavit of Heirship vs. Small Estate Affidavit
An affidavit of heirship is used to authenticate the surviving heirs of a decedent. Families often use this document when distributing decedent assets primarily consisting of real property (any building or land that would require a deed or title to be transferred). That’s because the real property will almost always exceed the maximum legal amount considered a small estate.
A small estate affidavit is used when one or more close relatives wish to claim the decedent’s property after an individual dies. The total value of the property must be below the maximum allowance by the state where this form is being filed. It’s important to note that a small estate affidavit is often filed along with an affidavit of heirship.
Small Estate Affidavit Sample
You can download our free small estate affidavit form in PDF or Word format, print it, and fill it out independently.
You can use the same template for most states, but for some, you will need customized small estate affidavit forms, which we included below: