Understanding Small Estate Affidavits (Probate)

By: Anthony V. Albertazzi

People going through the probate process after the death of a loved one can have very difficult experiences. You may have heard about how probate can be time consuming, expensive and frustrating. Facing this problem, many people look for an easier, quicker and less expensive route. In doing so, the “small estate affidavit” often becomes part of the picture. At first glance, this option seems appealing. Simply file an affidavit with the court, follow a few steps, and the probate problem is solved. In many instances, it may work exactly that way, but caution is appropriate.

Probate is the legal process of gathering a deceased person’s assets and paying creditors and beneficiaries of the deceased person. Part of the process often includes simply transferring assets to the beneficiary. For example, a parent may die and leave her home to her children. Perhaps the children want to keep the family home. In that case, probate can accomplish the important legal task of changing the title to the home to the children.

What is a “small” estate? The amount varies from state to state. In Oregon, if the value of the deceased’s estate is less than $275,000, and no more than $75,000 of that is for personal property, a small estate affidavit can be filed. Please note that these limits change regularly.  This can be a very easy and cost-effective way to settle the estate and the forms can be found online.  However, there are a few important guidelines to follow.  There are some duties involved in filing a small estate affidavit, and if not correctly followed, can cause problems.  One such problem is that you can become personally liable for creditors. This problem may not become apparent for years.  Also, there are some circumstances where the small estate affidavit procedure is not helpful for the goals you need to accomplish, regardless of the size of the estate. These limitations are important and should be considered carefully. If you are needing to file a small estate affidavit, it is very important to speak with an attorney to guide you through all the necessary steps to avoid problems both now and in the future.  At Albertazzi Law Firm, we can help with your probate and small estate affidavit needs.  Please call 541-317-0231.

 

 

 

 

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