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What is a Small Estate Affidavit?


The small estate affidavit is a useful tool to transfer property after someone dies. For example, if a person owned a car at the time of his or her death, the surviving family members may want to sell or give that car away. The family may be able to use a small estate affidavit to sell the car, rather than opening up a probate estate in court. The sale may be valid by simply completing a small estate affidavit, rather than waiting for a probate court to approve the sale. Therefore, a small estate affidavit can be an important tool to the family of a deceased person.

Many states provide that a small estate affidavit can be used if a deceased person did not have substantial property and assets when he or she died. In Illinois, a small estate affidavit may be used whenever the total assets in the deceased person’s estate are less than $100,000. However, a small estate affidavit cannot be used to transfer real property, like a home or a parcel of land. If you are an heir to an estate, we encourage you to contact an attorney to determine whether you can use a small estate affidavit to transfer property.

Some counties in Illinois provide a small estate affidavit form. For example, Cook County has a small estate affidavit form on the website of the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles provides a small estate affidavit form for the sale of a vehicle. You can find this form on the Illinois Secretary of State’s website.

The forms are generally easy to follow or understand. You will need to identify the person who died and the family members that survive. You will also need to state whether the person who died had a will. You will need to list the beneficiaries of the will. The form also asks information about the deceased person’s debts. You will also need to attach a certified copy of the death certificate to the small estate affidavit.

At Hays Firm, we frequently guide clients through the drafting and execution of a small estate affidavit. First, we determine whether our clients can use a small estate affidavit, or if they will need to open a probate estate in court. Our attorneys will review the assets of the estate with you to help make this determination. Our goal is to help you settle an estate in an efficient and timely matter. We understand that the time after the death of a loved one is filled with emotion and a feeling of pressure to “wrap up” the bills and the assets of the deceased person.

If a small estate affidavit is a possibility for the estate of your loved one, we will ensure that you are aware of this possibility. The Hays Firm can draft the small estate affidavit for you. Or, we can assist you in completing the forms provided by the state or county. If you would like to discuss specifics your situation with a qualified Chicago estate attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us.