Not every estate in the state of Indiana has to go through probate. The state offers some shortcuts for small estates, which simplify the process of transferring a deceased person's assets. Survivors can fill out a document known as a small estate affidavit stating entitlement to a specific asset and claim their inheritance if the estate has a value of $50,000 or less.
What Is an Indiana Small Estate Affidavit?
Indiana probate law allows inheritors to skip probate altogether if the value of an estate's assets is less than a specific amount. This is known as a small estate affidavit. All an inheritor needs to do is fill out a document stating entitlement to a particular asset.
When the entity – for example, an institution like a bank – that holds the deceased's property gets the document, it releases the asset. The value of the gross probate estate cannot exceed $50,000, less reasonable funeral expenses, liens and encumbrances.
If someone else has a right to the same property as the inheritor who files the affidavit, that person can collect their share of the decedent's estate from the inheritor. If the inheritor spends or gives their share away, they may sue the inheritor for their share. A small estate affidavit cannot not be used in the transfer of real estate.
How to File an Indiana Small Estate Affidavit
An inheritor must wait 45 days from the day the person dies to file the affidavit, according to Indiana Code Section 29-1-8-1. To file, they first prepare the Indiana small estate affidavit form and sign it in front of a notary public in the county named in the affidavit. They must also notify other inheritors, if any, of their plan to submit the affidavit.
When filling out the form, the claimant must include certain information:
- Indiana county where they will file the form.
- Decedent's name and date of death.
- County decedent lived in when they died.
- Reason why they are claiming the personal property, for example, a beneficiary under the decedent's will or a surviving family member.
- The names of all inheritors entitled to property, their relationship to the deceased/estate, their ages, the property description, their entitlement percentage, and the name and contact information of each entity holding the asset.
Use a Simplified Probate Process
Indiana also has a simplified probate process for estates valued at $50,000 or less. An estate's personal representative (PR) can distribute the assets to the persons entitled to inherit them and does not have to notify creditors before doing so. After the PR distributes the assets, they send a closing statement to inheritors and creditors and file it with the probate court.
The closing statement must state that the estate's value was $50,000 or less; the PR distributed the assets to inheritors; and they and the creditors were given a copy of the closing statement. The PR must also provide inheritors with an accounting of the distribution of assets.
Affidavits For Real Property
If they transferred real property, they should also file an affidavit with the county recorder's office in the county of its location, stating, "It appears that the decedent's gross probate estate, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed the sum of: fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), the costs and expenses of administration, and reasonable funeral expenses."
The statement should include the property's legal description, names of the people entitled to a property share and how much they are entitled to, whether the share is a divided or undivided interest and how each person's share was determined.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.