(251) 215-9275

Author: Brenton McWilliams

What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

Some states allow for the transfer of a deceased person’s assets on receipt of a statutory affidavit with certain information about the deceased and the heirs of the deceased. However, that’s not the case in Alabama. Instead of a small estate affidavit, Alabama allows for distribution of small estates through an abbreviated estate process known as summary distribution.

To qualify for summary distribution, the estate must meet the criteria of a “small estate” as defined by the statute. A “small estate” contains personal property only (no real estate) and does not exceed an amount (originally $25,000) annually adjusted for inflation. The amount is $30,608.00 for 2021 and is increased each year. The estate does not include property or assets which transfer according to operation of law include survivorship property or accounts with a valid beneficiary designation.

This question typically comes up for accounts without a beneficiary designation. In response to an inquiry from a family member, the financial institution will send a list of documents needed to release the funds from the account. The list typically requires a death certificate and some other document evidencing an entitled to the funds owned by the deceased person including letters testamentary or letters of administration and will usually reference a small estate affidavit as one of the options

If you have questions about estate administration in Alabama including summary distribution of a small estate, please call me at (251) 215-9275 or write me on the contact page to schedule an appointment to discuss how I can help.