Law Office of John S. Palmer Attorney at Law

(425) 455-5513

Small Estate Affidavit Procedure

Posted Saturday, June 26, 2010 by John S. Palmer

If a decedent’s probate assets are $100,000 or less, consisting only of tangible or intangible personal property (i.e., no real estate), the property may be transferred by affidavit. Under this procedure, any person owing money to the decedent, or having possession of his or her personal property, may pay the funds or deliver the property to a person entitled to the property under the decedent’s Will or, if there is no Will, under the laws of intestate succession, upon receipt of proof of the decedent’s death and an affidavit stating:

A person holding property of the decedent is discharged of any liability for delivering the property to the claimant to the same extent as if such person had dealt with an Executor of the decedent’s estate, unless the person had actual knowledge that any statement in the claimant’s affidavit was false.

If more than one affidavit is presented, the property holder may deliver the property to the claimant who first presents him or her with the required affidavit, or may ask a court to determine what to do. If the property holder refuses to deliver the property when presented with a proper claim, the claimant may obtain a court order compelling delivery of the property.

This procedure may be used to transfer bank accounts, securities, and other tangible or intangible personal property, provided the total value of the decedent’s probate estate is under the $100,000 limit. Nonprobate assets and a spouse’s share of community property assets do not count toward this limit; therefore this procedure may be useful in cases where most of a decedent’s property (and all real estate, if any) were passed on by nonprobate transfers.

This small estate affidavit procedure may be used even if the decedent had a Will, but the original Will must still be filed with the court by the person having custody or control of the Will within 30 days of learning of the decedent’s death. Failure to do so can render the person with custody or control of the Will liable for any damages suffered by others due to his or her failure to act.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (425) 455-5513, toll free at (877) 455-5513, or

Local: (425) 455-5513
Toll Free: (877) 455-5513
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Law Office of John S. Palmer11911 NE 1st St, Ste. B204,Bellevue, WA 98005-3056