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What is a Small Estate?


A small estate exists when there are probate assets that do not exceed $75,000. Whether or not something is a probate asset can be difficult to answer and it is advised that a probate attorney make the determination to ensure the assets are handled correctly.

Once the small estate affidavit has been completed, the assets can be transferred without formally appointing a personal representative through the court. There is also no need to provide notice to interested persons such as children, creditors, or a spouse.

The correct form to use to transfer assets in a small estate is an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property. The form is also sometimes called the Small Estate Affidavit. The process is governed by Minn. Stat. §524.3-1201. The form should only be filled out by a blood relative of the decedent or an individual who has a legal interest in the decedent’s property.

If you do not know if you have a legal interest in the property you should contact a probate attorney. Some examples of having a legal interest are:

  • A person named as the recipient of the property in the Decedent’s will;
  • The spouse of the Decedent;
  • A parent of the Decedent and there are no living children nor a living spouse;
  • A brother or sister of the Decedent and there is no closer relative.

There are instances when the value of the assets might not exceed $75,000 but the Affidavit of Collection of Personal Property form cannot be used. For example, the affidavit cannot be used to transfer real property. Real property has to be transferred through the probate court.