Last will and testament document

What is a Small Estate Affidavit and what are its benefits?

William D. Stilley, Esq. June 29, 2021

Imagine this scenario. Your Great Aunt Edna has died. Beyond her beloved Pomeranian dog and her 1987 Buick, she really didn’t have much. You are now tasked with handling the probate process for your Great Aunt’s estate. This seems like a daunting task, but there is a low cost, highly efficient alternative to the long drawn out probate process. The alternative is a Small Estate Affidavit.

A Small Estate Affidavit is a procedure to handle probate assets without opening a formal probate estate. When the value of an estate doesn’t exceed $40,000, a small estate affidavit may be filed. This valuation includes any real property, meaning real estate like houses, and personal property, things like bank accounts, material goods, etc. The main benefit of this filing is an obvious one. Without having to open a formal probate estate there is a large saving of cost and time. Formal probate estates can take anywhere from six months to two years to completely handle. A small estate affidavit can be taken care of quickly and efficiently. A small estate affidavit can also be filed more than a year after someone’s death and can help avoid a court process known as “Determination of Heirship”, which is as it sounds, when the court decides who are the heirs of an estate.

The ideal situation for filing a small estate affidavit would be if there are two or less beneficiaries of the estate and both beneficiaries live in the same town as the decedent, or at least very close by. Things can get more complicated and messy with more than two beneficiaries. In a situation like that, there are more contingencies to take into account. This is why it is important to consult with a probate attorney when handling any of these scenarios.

Stilley Law Office offers Small Estate Affidavit and other probate services in Independence, Missouri and also has the ability to meet in Overland Park, Kansas. We proudly serve the entire Kansas City metro from Blue Springs to Prairie Village. If you have recently lost a loved one and need probate assistance, give us a call at (816)-325-3713 and set up an appointment to speak with Mr. Stilley. Stilley Law Office strives to keep your family’s best interests at the forefront by offering fair and affordable legal services.