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The Basics of the Small-Estate Affidavit

The basics of the small-estate affidavit are important to know if your loved one passed away with an estate of less than $50,000. The small-estate affidavit is the quickest, cheapest, and simplest method of distribution property in compliance with the probate laws.

First, you must determine the value of property in the estate. If this value, after subtracting the amount of liens and encumbrances, is less than $50,000, you can use the small-estate affidavit.* Do not include non-probate assets such as life insurance, property held in joint tenancy, and property subject to payable-on-death designations in this calculation.

If your loved one's estate qualifies, you can present the small-estate affidavit and a death certificate to a bank or the DMV. Ask the bank or the DMV to change the name on the account or title to the heir or devisee who is entitled to distribution. You can also present the affidavit and death certificate to anyone who owes money to the decedent or anyone who possesses property owned by the decedent, including safe-deposit holders.

Please note that you cannot use the small-estate affidavit if someone has already filed for informal or formal probate. It is best to contact an attorney to confirm that your loved one's estate qualifies for the small-estate affidavit because there are numerous other requirements not mentioned in this article. Contact an attorney at Burns & Hansen, P.A. at 952-564-6262 to discuss your probate options.

* Minn. Stat. § 524.3-1201(a).

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