Small Estate Affidavits
Aurora Lawyer for Estate Administration
Not every estate will be required to go through the process of probate. When a person’s estate is relatively small and uncomplicated, other administrative methods may apply, including the use of small estate affidavits. At Robertson Legal Group, LLC, we are equipped to help transfer a decedent’s property by using small estate affidavits when applicable.
Necessary Elements of a Small Estate Affidavit in Illinois
A small estate affidavit is applicable in the State of Illinois when a decedent’s personal assets are valued at less than $100,000. A small estate affidavit can be used to deal with a variety of personal assets, but the affidavit itself must generally include:
- The decedent’s name and last address, as well as the date and place of death;
- Whether the decedent left a Last Will and Testament or other legal asset-transfer instruments;
- Whether letters of office have been filed in the State of Illinois or any other jurisdiction;
- The gross value of the decedent’s entire personal estate, including the value passing to any party either by intestacy or under a will. (See 755 ILCS 5/25(1)(b)); and
- The decedent’s known, unpaid debts such as funeral and burial expenses, surviving spouse’s or child’s award (if applicable), government debts, and debts owed to the State of Illinois, city, and/or any county.
Once it has been properly completed, the small estate affidavit can be used to facilitate:
- Access to the decedent’s bank accounts;
- Access to life insurance proceeds;
- Access to safety deposit boxes leased by the decedent;
- Transfer of vehicle ownership through the Secretary of State; and
- Access to any personal property item or items of which the fair market value is less than $100,000.
Recent Changes to the Law
Unlike a probate court determination, a small estate affidavit is a non-court related affidavit that distributes a decedent’s assets without court involvement. The small estate affidavit is an alternative to probate court. Probate court is confusing and often requires hiring an attorney to navigate the court system. The small estate affidavit is required to be notarized and third-party institutions such as banks, financing institutions, and life insurance companies rely on small estate affidavits.
In 2015, the Probate Act underwent a major change related to small estate affidavits. Under the revised law, Paragraph 7 of the small estate affidavit has expanded the class and list of creditors. The new law also requires the settlement of estate claims prior to signing the small estate affidavit. Similar to probate court, the new small estate affidavit law classifies the different types of debts ranging from non-priority claims such as credit cards, medical bills, and other debts to surviving spouse’s awards and child’s awards (for disabled adults or minor children) to government debts. Thus, this new provision in the law provides for creditors getting paid before a distribution to heirs or legatees.
Contact Our Office Today
Sean Robertson and Robertson Legal Group, LLC are experienced probate and small estate affidavit attorneys in the Naperville, Illinois area. With more than 14 years of experience, Sean Robertson concentrates his practice in the areas of estates, trusts, small estate affidavits, and probate law. Call 630-780-1034 or contact our office via our online contact form for a free initial consultation.