Small Estate Affidavit in Texas

Knowledgeable Houston Probate Lawyers Helping Clients Protect Their Assets While Minimizing the Need for Lengthy Probate Proceedings

When someone dies, regardless of whether they left behind a will, their estate must pass through the probate process before any estate assets pass on to the deceased’s beneficiaries or heirs. But probating an estate can be a lengthy—and costly—process. Probate also opens the door to disputes that can add to the time, expense, and stress it takes to administer an estate.

A small estate affidavit may be a fast and affordable way to transfer property to a decedent’s heirs. At The Probate Law Group in Houston, TX, our team of attorneys has more than 30 years of combined experience efficiently guiding our clients through the probate process.

A Small Estate Affidavit in Texas is a valuable legal tool for simplifying the probate process. When a loved one passes away with a modest estate, this affidavit can save time and money. By filling out the Small Estate Affidavit in Texas, eligible heirs can quickly transfer a small amount of assets without the need for a lengthy probate court proceeding. It’s essential to understand the requirements and guidelines for utilizing this option in Texas. Contact us today for a consultation.

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    In Texas, a small estate affidavit (“SEA”) is a legal document that allows for the simplified transfer of assets from a deceased person’s estate to their heirs. In this way, an SEA is an alternative to a full probate administration and is a useful probate avoidance strategy when the value of the estate is relatively small and there is no need for a full probate process.

    Small estate affidavits are not available in all—or even most—scenarios. Below is a list of some of the small estate affidavit requirements:

    • The decedent did not have a last will and testament
    • The estate has a value of $75,000 or less (excluding exempt property, non-probate property, and the homestead);
    • The estate has more probate assets than it does debt;
    • The homestead is the only real property belonging to the estate;
    • The homestead will be inherited by the deceased’s surviving spouse or children, who were living with the deceased at the time of their death;
    • All heirs of the deceased sign the small estate affidavit;
    • A personal representative has not been appointed; and
    • The estate does not require administration.

    If an estate meets above criteria, you may be eligible to file a small estate affidavit in the county where the deceased lived.

    Exempt property refers to a class of assets that Texas lawmakers determined do not need to be probated. Some of the most common examples of exempt assets include:

    • A home (provided it is transferred to the deceased’s surviving spouse or children);
    • A certain amount of jewelry;
    • Books;
    • Clothing;
    • Farming equipment;
    • One vehicle;
    • Tools; and
    • Up to two firearms.

    Non-probate property includes assets that are immediately transferred to a beneficiary when the owner dies. Often, non-probate assets would otherwise be required to go through the probate process, but for the structure of the ownership interest. For example, the following are all types of non-probate property:

    • Assets placed in a valid trust;
    • Accounts with Transfer-on-death (“TOD”) or payable-on-death (“POD”) designations;
    • Real estate owned as joint tenants with the right of survivorship; and
    • Any other assets with listed beneficiaries.

    If you are interested in learning more about whether you can file a small estate affidavit, reach out to The Probate Law Group in Houston, TX, we have extensive experience helping clients navigate the complexities of the Texas probate process, helping them identify the quickest and most efficient way to probate an estate. We’re immediately available to meet with you to learn more about your situation and discuss how we can help. To learn more, and to schedule a no-obligation consultation, you can reach us at 713-574-6080 or through our online contact form.