a hand signing a document

What Is a Small Estate Affidavit?

Probate is a long and costly process that can take a year or more, and it’s best to avoid it if you can. For a small estate with property valued below a certain threshold, the best way to skip the probate process is to use a small estate affidavit.

In Arizona, estates with more than $75,000 in personal property and/or over $100,000 in real estate property are subject to probate. Estates of any size can avoid probate by placing the assets in a trust. But if your loved one passed away without a trust, there may still be a way to save yourself the trouble of going through probate. 

What Is a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit allows an estate executor to distribute the assets without needing to file for probate. Usually, the responsibility of filing the small estate affidavit will fall to the estate executor. However, any of the estate heirs can become a petitioner and file the affidavit instead.

In order to be eligible for a small estate affidavit, the estate must have personal property valued below $75,000 and/or real estate property valued below $100,000. Real estate property is evaluated using the fair market value (FMV) from the current year. 

How to File a Small Estate Affidavit in Arizona

According to Arizona Revised Statute 14-3971, there are two types of small estate affidavits—one for the “collection of personal property” and one for “succession to real estate property.” Both types must describe the petitioner’s relationship with the decedent (the owner of the estate), and why the petitioner is entitled to the property.   

Before filing a small estate affidavit for personal property, the petitioner must wait at least 30 days after the owner of the estate has passed. And the affidavit must include a list of the decedent’s personal property. 

With real estate, the petitioner has to wait at least six months after the decedent’s death to file the affidavit, and must ensure that all debts and taxes have been paid. They also need to describe the property in the affidavit.  

After drafting the affidavit, the petitioner must sign it and have it notarized. They must also attach a copy of the will, the death certificate, and the property titles to the affidavit. Then they must file the document with the probate court in the county where the property is located. Lastly, they need to record the affidavit in the same county. 

Do You Need Help Administering an Estate?

At Phelps LaClair, we know that administering an estate can be a confusing and overwhelming process—that’s why we aim to make it as painless as possible. We can help you create a small estate affidavit or any other documents required for the estate administration process

Save your loved ones the burdens of probate and affidavits by setting up a living trust. Give us a call at 480-892-2488 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation in Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, or one of our other convenient Arizona locations

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/21/2023). Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Next webinar
starting soon
Free Webinar