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How to File a Small Estate Affidavit in Spokane 

A small estate affidavit can be used in Spokane if the following criteria are met:

  • If the affidavit is being used for personal property
  • If the assets of the deceased are less than $100,000
  • There is no real property
  • There are no debts

A small estate affidavit is sometimes referred to a variety of names and titles. Some of the most common references are:

  • A Personal Property Affidavit
  • A Personal Property Transfer Affidavit
  • An Affidavit for Disposition of Personal Property
  • An Affidavit for Distribution of Decedent’s Personal Property

Don’t get confused. All of these titles are referencing the same thing.

What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit is a document that can be completed to avoid probate of a small estate. Using this method, spouses or family members can disperse a loved one’s property to creditors and heirs without having to go through a formal probate process supervised by the courts. The small estate affidavit should sometimes be filed in the local jurisdiction where the deceased passed and where the property is located.

Probate can be a lengthy and costly process. While in many cases it is unavoidable, a small estate affidavit is one way to potentially avoid probate. A small estate affidavit is a document that allows an heir or beneficiary to claim assets without going through the formal court probate process. However, small estate affidavits can only be used when the total value of an estate is under a certain amount. In the state of Washington, a small estate affidavit can only be utilized when the assets are worth $100,00 or less.

Small Estate Affidavit Qualifications

Here are the qualifications for a small estate affidavit:

  • Personal Property
  • No debt
  • The small estate affidavit cannot be used for real property. Only personal property, valuing $100,00 or less, qualifies for the use of a small estate affidavit. If the sum of the estate is greater than $100,00 or if an actual property is involved, probate is required.

Small Estate Affidavits cannot be used in the state of Washington in the following scenarios:

  • The decedent is not a resident of Washington State
  • The decedent has a pending Petition for Appointment of Personal Representative or has been granted one in any jurisdiction
  • For a decedent who died with more debts than assets
  • In the first 40 days after death
  • By a person who is not considered a “successor” of the decedent in accordance with RCW 11.62.005(2)
  • Total Valuation of Estate is over $100,000
  • It’s important to note that the affidavit procedure takes into account only the decedent’s probate assets when factoring the $100,000 limit. Non-probate assets follow a different process and are not considered to be a part of the $100,000 estate. In addition, the affidavit concerns only the probate assets of the decedent themselves. If the decedent is survived by a spouse, the spouse’s one-half interest in their community property is not part of the valuation. Probate values are also based off of net (not gross) value. Debts are taken into account and any equity interest in probate assets are not included in the total valuation.

Personal Property includes:

  • Tangible personal property (cars, boats, planes, furniture, clothing, books, jewelry, etc.)
  • Intangible personal property (cash, certificates of deposit, securities, stocks, bonds, notes, debts, licenses, certificates of ownership, etc.).

To recap:

  • A small estate affidavit can be used for all personal property among the probate assets if the assets consist only of personal (and not real) property valuing $100,000 or less. If this is not the case, you can assume a probate proceeding is necessary.

Decedent’s Debts

  • A small estate affidavit can only be used if the decedent’s debts are paid for. This includes all funeral and burial costs.

Who Can Use the Small Estate Affidavit?

To use the Affidavit, one must be a “successor” of the decedent as defined in RCW 11.62.005(2)

If eligible, it’s necessary to know who has the right to use an affidavit. The following successors may qualify for an affidavit if all other criteria are met:

  • Anyone, entitled to the claimed property under the decedent’s will
  • Anyone entitled to the property as an heir of the decedent
  • The decedent’s surviving spouse to the extent of his/her one-half community interest in the claimed property
  • The Washington Department of Social & Health Services to recover funds paid or expended for decedent’s medical care
  • The State of Washington to the extent of escheat property (property passing to no other beneficiary, heir, or creditor)
  • A person whose only claim to the property is as a creditor is excluded from being a “successor” with the exception of the State.

Small Estate Affidavit in Spokane

A small estate affidavit can be useful when dealing with an estate under $100,000 and no real roperty. If an heir or beneficiary meets the criteria above, a small estate affidavit can help save time and money that would be spent sometimes on the lengthy probate process.

Contact Evergreen Elder Law to set up a free consultation (in person or online) that will help determine if a small estate affidavit is the right fit for your circumstance. One of our knowledgeable attorneys will be happy to answer all of your questions and help you plan your best course of action.


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Evergreen Elder Law is committed to helping you create comprehensive legal, financial, and physical security for you and your loved ones. Serving the Spokane, Tri Cities and Coeur d’Alene regions, we have the knowledge, compassion and professionalism to guide you in planning for the future, giving you peace of mind as you or a loved one makes important decisions for your family and future.

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