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Kevin O'Flaherty

Navigating the estate of a loved one can seem daunting, especially in the wake of loss. If the Illinois estate you’re dealing with is valued at under $100,000, a small estate affidavit might be the solution to settle affairs swiftly and without formal probate. In this guide, we explain Illinois small estate affidavits and provide a step-by-step process on “Illinois small estate affidavits explained: How to file a small estate affidavit in Illinois”, demystifying the journey to give you peace of mind during this tough time.

What is a small estate affidavit?

A small estate affidavit is a form that the administrator of a deceased person’s (known as the “decedent”) estate can use to collect the decedent’s assets, pay their debts, and distribute the balance of the estate to the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries. Estate administrators can avoid opening a probate case and instead administer an estate without court oversight by using a Small Estate Affidavit if all of the following are true:

  • The decedent’s assets amount to less than $100,000 and do not include real estate.
  •  All of the creditors will be paid.
  • The administrator contests no creditors’ claims.
  • There are no disputes between heirs and beneficiaries.

The affidavit requires the administrator to swear in writing that all of these conditions are met and to set forth how the estate assets will be distributed. The administrator will be legally empowered to collect and distribute the decedent’s property by presenting financial institutions and any other business or person who has the property with a copy of the small estate affidavit, a copy of the death certificate, and a certified copy of any existing will.

Here, read more about the pros and cons of small estate affidavits and information on probate.

What information do you need to file a small estate affidavit?

You need to supply the following information in the small estate affidavit.

  • Your (affiant’s) name, address, phone number, and relationship to the decedent.
  • The name and contact info for an Illinois resident if you are not an Illinois resident who can serve as an agent for service of process in your absence.
  • The decedent’s name, date of death, and residence address before death.
  • Description and valuations of the decedent’s assets, including vehicle, make, model, VIN, and license plate number.
  • Information on the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses, surviving spouse/dependent award, and outstanding debts.
  •  Name and place of residence of any surviving spouse, minor children, or adult dependents.
  • Breakdown of how the decedent’s estate will be distributed to heirs.

Does a small estate affidavit need to be filed with the court in Illinois?

A small affidavit does not need to be filed with a court. You can find the small estate affidavit form from the Illinois Secretary of State online or in person at your local circuit county clerk’s office. Once it’s filled out, make at least one extra copy of the affidavit. The form must be notarized, so make sure you don’t sign it until you can do so in the presence of a notary public. You’ll also need to attach a copy of the death certificate and a certified copy of the will if there is one.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file a small estate affidavit in Illinois?

To submit a small estate affidavit in Illinois, it is necessary to accurately complete the Small Estate Affidavit form and have it notarized before submitting it to the appropriate county court for processing. This legal document allows for the filing of an estate that meets certain criteria as a smaller alternative to traditional probate proceedings in Illinois. By completing this process according to state guidelines, individuals complete this process.

What are the risks of using a small estate affidavit in Illinois?

Using a small estate affidavit in Illinois comes with the risk of being personally liable to return property or funds to the estate if there are creditors or other heirs involved. Be aware of the restrictions before the courts accept your request.

Do you need a lawyer to draw up an affidavit of heirs Illinois?

Securing the assistance of a lawyer to prepare an affidavit of heirs in Illinois is recommended due to the similar regulations that govern both this process and probate proceedings. Engaging a legal professional can guarantee proper execution and adherence to applicable laws.

What is the waiting period for a small estate affidavit in Illinois?

In the state of Illinois, a small estate affidavit can be utilized without any waiting period following an individual’s passing. This document allows for immediate handling of their smaller assets and does not require probate court involvement. It is specifically designed for estates with low value or limited resources.

What is a small estate affidavit?

The estate administrator of a deceased individual utilizes the small estate affidavit to collect assets, pay off debts, and allocate remaining portions of the estate to beneficiaries. This form is specifically designed for smaller estates. It serves as an important legal document in managing and distributing resources left behind by a deceased person.

To learn how to administer an estate once the Small Estate Affidavit has been filed, check out our article: How to Administer an Estate in Illinois.

Our team is the ready to address your legal needs remotely OR at one of our many physical locations, including our Schaumburg attorneys located at: 

O’Flaherty Law of Schaumburg

200 W. Higgins Rd, Ste. 231A, Schaumburg, IL 60195

(847) 220-8191



Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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