What is a Small Estate Affidavit?
Missouri recognizes a modified process to probate an estate where the “entire estate, less liens, debt and encumbrances does not exceed forty thousand dollars.” This process is often referred to as “Small Estate Affidavit” because only an affidavit has to be filed with the court in order to probate the assets. This shortened approach to probate is very different from the longer, more complex process that is required with a larger estate. The purpose behind this is to keep the probate courts from being overwhelmed and to provide results in smaller estates with less expense and more expediency.
In addition to the value of small estates being capped at forty thousand dollars, there are additional requirements that you must follow. For example, if the probate property value is more than fifteen thousand dollars, it is mandatory that a notice to creditors be published in a newspaper of general circulation. Also, with certain conditions, the small estate affidavit may be filed by the personal representative listed in the Will or by a person that is authorized to receive a distribution from the estate.
A Small Estate Affidavit may be allowed if the following conditions are met:
- The entire estate (minus liens and debts) must be less than $40,000
- The affidavit can’t be filed within 30 days of Decedent’s death
- A spouse’s or creditor’s Refusal of Letters can’t be filed or pending
- The affiant must swear under oath to pay any outstanding debts and taxes before distributing property to the legatees or heirs
- A bond for Personal Property is required
- The entire process typically takes approx. 60-90 days to complete