What is a Small Estate Affidavit? Are They Allowed in Illinois?

  • Illinois Probate Law
what is a small estate affidavit are they allowed in illinois | estate and probate legal group

When we hear of someone inheriting an estate after a loved one has passed away, we often think it is a large house and a wealth of assets. But that is not necessarily true. An ‘estate’ simply means everything that the person owned. It could be their possessions inside a rental apartment, such as the furniture, record collection and money in the bank. If you inherit the assets of someone who had a smaller estate, you may be able to submit a small estate affidavit instead of going through probate.

The courts want to move their cases along. If the person dies without a will, the property might still pass to you without going through probate courts.

What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit is a sworn legal document that you can use to assert your claim to assets from the estate of someone who has passed away. You must generally be a family member, such as a spouse, child, parent, partner or executor of the estate. If the person who passed away did not own many assets, you might be able to avoid probate court.

Not everyone can submit a small estate affidavit after the death of a loved one. Not all states acknowledge a small estate affidavit – thankfully, Illinois recognizes it. Here are the requirements to determine if you can use a small estate affidavit:

  • In Illinois, the estate’s value must be under $100,000
  • Probate cannot have already begun
  • There is no real estate property, such as a house

This affidavit states your rights to the assets and the estate’s value.

You must include various documents to prove you are entitled to the estate. Some of these documents include the following:

  • death certificate
  • proof that you are entitled to the assets (your birth certificate if it is your father’s estate)
  • proof of identification, such as your driver’s license or passport

proof of assets such as car title or bank statements

Only some people can file a small estate affidavit; there are restrictions. If you work with an experienced probate attorney, we can tell you precisely what is needed and how to file the legal documents.

Dangers And Restrictions When Submitting this Using A Small Estate Affidavit

Not everyone will accept can submit a small estate affidavit after the death of a loved one. You must adhere to restrictions before the courts accept your request.

People report that there are banks and other financial institutions that will nNot all states acknowledge a small estate affidavit. – thankfully, Illinois recognizes it

  • In Illinois, the estate’s value must be under $100,000
  • Probate cannot have already begun

You will not inherit real property, such as a house

In addition, when you use a small estate affidavit you run the risk of being personally liable to return any property or funds to the estate should there be any creditors or other heirs to the estate. 

A big difference between going through probate and a small estate affidavit is that creditors and potential heirs are put on notice through publication in a newspaper. At the end of probate, a probate judge signs a final order closing the estate. This is one key advantage to using the probate court process. 

If you can meet these terms, you may be able to avoid the time and money associated with the probate court. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate the legal paperwork. The courts law may not require you to hire an attorney when submitting using a small estate affidavit, but you may want one anyways. Legal documents are tricky, and it is best to fill them out correctly the first time.

Do You Need Help Inheriting a Small Estate? Contact a DuPage County Wills and Trusts Attorney

Do you think you may be able to submit a Small Estate Affidavit? To talk to probate, trust and estate attorney in Chicago or Oak Brook about how to obtain and submit this legal document, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.

AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties

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