Avoiding the Probate Process: Probate Law and Small Estate Affidavits
The loss of a loved one is often a trying time. Dealing with an estate doesn't have to make it more difficult. A probate attorney can guide clients through the probate process and other estate matters to make the process as smooth as possible.
While probate court is commonly used to distribute the assets of an estate, it is not the only option. A small estate affidavit can be used instead, but there are some stipulations, as we'll discuss today. At Froerer & Miles, our attorneys offer services in probate law and small estate affidavits throughout Ogden, UT and nearby Layton and Salt Lake City.
Probate Law and Administering Estates
Probate law refers to the rules that govern the dispersal of an estate of a deceased person. The probate process is supervised by the courts. It can be time consuming and costly as it often requires many steps before completion, such as:
- Authenticating the will
- Appointing an executor of the estate
- Locating assets of the decedent
- Finding and notifying creditors
- Paying decedent's debts
- Distributing the remainder of the estate to beneficiaries
Avoiding Probate with a Small Estate Affidavit
Simply put, a small estate affidavit makes it possible to disperse property from a will without going through the probate process.
For people who aren't leaving behind a house, property, or a substantial amount of money, a small estate affidavit may be used to avoid probate court, helping to simplify the process for distributing property in a will.
In the state of Utah, a small estate affidavit is not filed with the court. The affidavit is filled out, listing the property to be collected, such as jewelry or money. It is then signed under oath, in front of a notary. The affidavit, along with a copy of the death certificate, is then given to the appropriate party, like the bank where the deceased had an account, to collect the property.
Requirements for a Small Estate Affidavit
Each state has different requirements for small estate affidavits. Under the Utah Courts, small estate affidavits can only be used if:
- There is no real property, such as land or buildings on that land
- No title transfer for property or a house
- The value of the estate is under $100,000
- 30 days or more have passed since the death
- No request or appointment of a personal representative for the estate has been filed
An Attorney Can Help with a Small Estate Affidavit
Although using a small estate affidavit can be easier than going through probate court, it is still beneficial to have a probate attorney to help you through the affidavit process.
Because state requirements vary as to which estates qualify for use of a small estate affidavit, it is helpful to consult an attorney who is familiar with your state's laws and requirements so your loved one's last wishes as stated in his or her will can be fulfilled quickly and correctly.
Contact the Attorneys of Froerer & Miles
For more information about probate law and small estate affidavits, please call the attorneys of Froerer & Miles at (801) 621-2690 to schedule a consultation.