Small Estate Affidavit or Affidavit of Heirship

Question: Should I use a Small Estate Affidavit or Affidavit of Heirship? What is the difference?

Small Estate Affidavit

A Small Estate Affidavit is a sworn statement signed under oath by the beneficiary of an estate that the estate’s value, including real property and personal property, is worth an amount small enough to avoid or shorten probate. It is subject to Small Estate limits set forth by each individual state.

Using a Small Estate Affidavit is a faster alternative when compared to the probate process and allows the heirs access to the assets of the estate quickly and with less paperwork.

Make sure you research your state’s Small Estate Administration procedures when filing a Small Estate Affidavit because each state has different interpretations of what constitutes a Small Estate.

Affidavit of Heirship

An Affidavit of Heirship is used when someone dies without a will and left only real estate. Instead of going through the probate process to have title to the property transferred to the Decedent’s heirs, the heirs can file an Affidavit of Heirship in the county where the Decedent’s property lies.

An Affidavit of Heirship form’s sole purpose is to name the heirs of the estate and gives notice that a person has died intestate, or without a will. The Affidavit of Heirship is notarized and filed with the court and, in turn, then establishes title of the property to the heirs.

Differences between a Small Estate Affidavit and Affidavit of Heirship

  • Use a Small Estate Affidavit for real and personal property and when the value of estate in question is below the small estate limits set forth by your state.
  • Use an Affidavit of Heirship for real property and there is no will.

Remember these are basic differences between the two forms and each state varies in their actual application. Use due diligence when researching these two procedures and that if you have a serious legal issue, we strongly suggest you consult an attorney.