Last Updated: July 8, 2024

Introduction to Probate: Using a Small Estate Affidavit in Utah

In this fourth article of our series on probate in Utah, we’ll explain the simplified process of administering an estate using a small estate affidavit. This process can be faster and less expensive for certain estates. Knowing how to use a small estate affidavit can help you handle a decedent’s…

In this fourth article of our series on probate in Utah, we’ll explain the simplified process of administering an estate using a small estate affidavit. This process can be faster and less expensive for certain estates. Knowing how to use a small estate affidavit can help you handle a decedent’s estate without formal probate.

What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit is a legal document that allows the person legally responsible for acting as personal representative to collect and distribute the decedent’s personal property without filing a probate case. This more straightforward process can be used when the estate’s total value is relatively low and doesn’t include real property.

Criteria for Using a Small Estate Affidavit

In Utah, a small estate affidavit can generally be used if:

  • Estate Value: The estate is worth less than $100,000 (plus up to four vehicles).
  • No Real Property: The estate doesn’t include real property, like land or a house.
  • Time Passed: At least 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death.
  • No Pending Applications: No application for appointment of a personal representative has been filed with the court.

Steps to Use a Small Estate Affidavit

If the estate meets the criteria, the following steps are common:

  1. Execute the Affidavit:
    • The person entitled to act as personal representative completes the small estate affidavit with information about the decedent and the estate’s assets.
    • The affidavit must be signed in front of a notary public.
  2. Gather Supporting Documents:
    • Collect necessary documents, like the decedent’s death certificate and proof of the estate’s assets.
  3. Submit the Affidavit:
    • The affidavit is not filed with the court. Instead, it is given to third parties, like banks, to collect the decedent’s personal property.
  4. Distribute the Assets:
    • The estate’s assets are collected then distributed according to the will or Utah’s intestate succession laws.

Benefits of Using a Small Estate Affidavit

Using a small estate affidavit has several benefits:

  • Efficiency: The process is faster than filing for probate through the courts, so assets can be collected and distributed quickly.
  • Cost-Effective: It avoids many of the costs of formal probate, like court and attorney fees.
  • Simplicity: The process is straightforward and has fewer legal steps, making it easier for the successor to manage the estate.

Limitations and Considerations

While a small estate affidavit simplifies the probate process, consider the following:

  • Eligibility: The estate must meet the criteria to qualify for this process.
  • Legal Advice: It’s still a good idea to consult a probate attorney to ensure everything is done correctly.
  • Third-Party Acceptance: Some third parties might ask for extra documentation before releasing the assets.

The small estate affidavit process is a helpful tool for managing smaller estates without formal probate. By understanding the steps involved, you can simplify handling a loved one’s estate.

Our next article will discuss the differences between informal and formal probate in Utah. For help, contact Stone River Law. Our experienced probate attorneys are here to guide you through every step of the process.

Originally Published: July 9, 2024

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