Small Estate Affidavits

Small Estate Affidavits

Provided By: Alan G. Orlowsky

When a person passes away and leaves his or her remaining property to loved ones through a will or intestacy, a probate court must oversee administration of the assets. If the decedent had a will, a probate court will need to ensure that it is valid. In other cases, the court may order the payment of debts or taxes or distribute the property if no will exists. While some probate proceedings can be concluded quickly, others require property appraisals and inventories, which can take a significant amount of time. Fortunately, Illinois offers a number of probate shortcuts for beneficiaries of small estates, so if you are the beneficiary of an estate valued at less than $100,000, it is important to contact an experienced probate attorney who can help you successfully navigate some of the more complex aspects of the probate process.


In Illinois, beneficiaries can skip probate when the value of the decedent’s assets is less than $100,000 and does not include real estate. The process requires that the executor of the will, or a court-appointed administrator prepare an affidavit that includes:

  • The decedent’s basic identifying information;
  • The executor or administrator’s contact information;
  • An attestation that probate proceedings are not pending;
  • A list of all of the decedent’s assets, including bank and brokerage accounts, vehicles, jewelry, art, and mutual funds; and
  • A copy of the decedent’s death certificate.

The affidavit must also include a list of all known unpaid debts, including:

  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • The surviving spouse’s or children’s award from the estate;
  • Debts owed to the U.S.;
  • Debts of up to $800 owed to the decedent’s employees for services rendered in the four months prior to the decedent’s death;
  • Money or property held in trust by the decedent, but that cannot be traced;
  • Debts owed to Illinois; and
  • Any other claims.

Additionally, if the beneficiary inherited the property through a will, a copy of the document must also be attached to the affidavit. Once the affidavit has been signed under oath, the executor can deliver it to whichever person, institution, or corporation is temporarily holding the assets. Upon receipt, the institution, usually a bank, will release the property to the person who completed the affidavit. The executor or administrator is then required to pay all of the decedent’s known debts before any of the assets can be disbursed amongst the beneficiaries or heirs.

Distribution on Summary Administration

Illinois also offers a simplified probate procedure for beneficiaries of small estates who do not choose to submit an affidavit. To begin the process, an executor must file a written request with the probate court. Once authorized, the executor is permitted to distribute the assets without court supervision. All beneficiaries and heirs must also consent to the summary administration in writing.

Contact a Dedicated Probate Attorney Today

Navigating the probate system can be time-consuming, so if you are the beneficiary or heir to a small estate, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney who can help you utilize simpler procedures. Please contact Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law by calling 847-348-8863 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a consultation with an experienced probate attorney.


Updated as of July 2019
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