A typical probate case in Illinois takes between six and 12 months to complete, but some can take much longer due to complications or individual complexities. Smaller estates may have a faster option. If the estate value is less than $100,000, a small estate affidavit can be used to transfer the decedent's property to his beneficiaries without having to go through the formal probate process. Unlike other probate forms, the small estate affidavit is not filed with the court but is instead provided to third parties that hold the decedent's assets.
Determine Applicability of the Small Estate Affidavit
Review the decedent's will and determine if his assets are worth less than $100,000. Check if there are any complexities involved in the case that may make the small estate affidavit inappropriate to use, such as having unpaid funeral expenses, unpaid creditors, minor beneficiaries, disabled beneficiaries or unknown assets. Avoid using the small estate affidavit if the will is likely to be challenged or if probate proceedings have already been initiated.
Read More: What Is a Small Estate Affidavit Used for?
Download the Small Estate Affidavit Form
Download the small estate affidavit form. You can also request the form from the probate court's clerk. The content is dictated by state law, so you'll need the form.
Fill Out the Form
Go through the form, line by line. Include your name, address and service of process information on the appropriate lines. This indicates who you're going to deliver the affidavit to, the individual or business entity that's holding the decedent's property. Write the decedent's name, his address before death, and the time and date of death on the appropriate lines.
Now list the assets that the decedent owned at the time of his death. This information goes on line 6 of the affidavit. List the item's fair market value beside each asset.
If you decide to use a small estate affidavit despite the decedent owing debts, list the decedent's debts on line 7 of the affidavit. For example, list any outstanding funeral debts beside Class 1 and debts owed to the state of Illinois beside Class 6.
List the Names of Family Members and Beneficiaries
Write down the names of the decedent's spouse and dependent children. Compute the amount that is allowable to these surviving beneficiaries, which is $20,000 for the surviving spouse and $10,000 each for the dependent children who resided with the decedent at the time of his death. List the names of the beneficiaries and their respective shares on line 10(b) if the decedent had a will. If the decedent didn't leave a will, list the decedent's rightful heirs and the portion of the estate that they are entitled to under Illinois' laws of intestacy.
Notarize and Attach the Affidavit
Sign the affidavit in front of a notary public. Attach the death certificate with the affidavit and supply it to the third party who you want to relinquish the decedent's property.
Make honest statements and ensure that the answers are correct on the affidavit. You must swear under oath that the facts you provide are accurate. You can be held personally liable for making errors or omissions, even if they were made in good faith.
Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.