Indiana lets qualifying heirs of a person who dies without a will avoid probate through a small estate affidavit. Beneficiaries of a small estate can usually claim bank accounts and other estate assets faster and cheaper than going through probate. In Indiana, this summary administration process can only be used if the estate is worth less than $50,000 and at least 45 days have passed since the death. Estates that include real estate may be settled using this process after petitioning the court for permission. Talk to a financial advisor to help you plan your estate.
Small Estate Affidavit Basics
A small estate affidavit is a sworn legal document that an heir can use to assert a claim to assets from the estate of someone who has died. A bank or organization acting as the holder of the deceased’s estate must turn assets over to the qualifying beneficiary when presented with the small estate affidavit.
This summary administration process allows heirs to avoid probate, which can take months or years and require paying fees that significantly reduce the value of the estate. However, not all Indiana estates can qualify for this process. Small estate affidavits require that:
- The estate is valued under $50,000.
- At least 45 days have passed since the death.
If the estate includes real property like a home and other real estate, the court must be petitioned for permission to transfer the real estate through the small estate affidavit process.
In Indiana, the small estate affidavit does not have to be filed with the court. A completed affidavit can be presented to the bank, organization or person holding estate assets to get them released.
The small estate affidavit form can be downloaded from the Indiana website. Indiana Legal Help also provides a downloadable form that may be easier to use. Most people can draft and complete the affidavit without help from an attorney. The form is not legally required to be notarized, but it is recommended that a notary witness and certify the signatures.
Small Estate Affidavit Requirements for Indiana
Indiana law says that a small estate affidavit must:
- Provide the name, address, Social Security number and date of the decedent’s death.
- State that the value of the assets in the estate is less than $50,000.
- State that 45 days have passed since the death.
- State that no application to appoint a personal representative has been granted.
- Give the names and addresses of everyone entitled to a distribution of assets from the estate, as well as the portion of the account each person will receive.
- Assert that everyone identified in the affidavit knows that it is being used.
- Be signed in the presence of a notary.
3 Pros of a Small Estate Affidavit
Small estate affidavits offer notable benefits, including:
- It takes less time compared to formal probate.
- Costs are much lower than probate.
- A small estate affidavit can be used when a person dies without a will.
3 Cons of a Small Estate Affidavit
Some limits and drawbacks include:
- Estates must be valued under $50,000.
- All qualifying heirs and beneficiaries must be contacted and consent to the use of the affidavit.
- Real estate cannot be transferred without court agreement
A small estate affidavit in Indiana can save time and money when transferring assets from the estate of a deceased. However, the affidavits can only be used when the estate is valued under $50,000. Heirs can gain control of assets such like bank accounts and stocks by presenting a completed small estate affidavit to the holder of the estate. Most people can complete one of these affidavits without an attorney.
Estate Planning Tips
- A financial advisor can help you with estate planning and other financial matters. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- You can learn more about how Indiana handles estates in SmartAsset’s comprehensive guide to inheritance in Indiana.
Photo credit: ©iStock/fizkes, ©iStock/master1305, ©iStock/Goodboy Picture Company