A small estate affidavit in Florida is a step in a summary administration, which allows for the distribution of a deceased person’s assets without the need for probate court. This process is typically used when the deceased person’s estate is valued at less than $75,000 and they did not have a will.

The process begins with the filing of an Affidavit of Small Estate by a person who is entitled to inherit the deceased person’s assets. This person, known as the “affiant,” must swear under oath that they are the rightful heir of the deceased person’s estate and that the estate is valued at less than $75,000. The Affidavit of Small Estate must also include a description of the assets and their value.

Once the Affidavit of Small Estate is filed, the affiant must give notice to all other potential heirs of the deceased person’s estate. This notice must include the name of the deceased person, the affiant’s name, and the time and place where the Affidavit of Small Estate was filed.

After the notice has been given, the affiant must wait for a period of 30 days before distributing the assets of the deceased person’s estate. During this time, any other person who believes they have a rightful claim to the estate may file an objection to the Affidavit of Small Estate.

Example 1: Mr. Smith passed away without a will, leaving behind a bank account with $50,000 and a car worth $10,000. His only surviving relative is his daughter, who is entitled to inherit his assets. She can file an Affidavit of Small Estate, swear under oath that she is the rightful heir and that the estate is valued at less than $75,000, and give notice to any other potential heirs. After 30 days, if no objections are filed, she can distribute the assets to herself.

Example 2: Mrs. Johnson passed away without a will and left behind a house worth $200,000, a bank account with $50,000 and a car worth $10,000. Her husband is entitled to inherit her assets. He can’t file an Affidavit of Small Estate as the estate is valued over $75,000, so he will need to go through probate court to get the authority to distribute the assets among the heirs.

The Florida Small Estate Affidavit process is not a substitute for probate in all situations. If the estate exceeds $75,000 or if the deceased person had a will, probate court may be required. Additionally, if any disputes arise among the heirs or if any creditors come forward with claims against the estate, probate court may be necessary to resolve those disputes.

Gideon Alper

About the Author

Gideon Alper is an attorney who specializes in asset protection planning. He graduated with honors from Emory University Law School and has over 15 years of legal experience.

Gideon has helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors. Before private practice, he represented the federal government while working for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.

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