The Small Estate Affidavit (SEA) was amended and went into effect on August 1, 2014. The SEA’s purpose is to help heirs and beneficiaries of small estates – less than $100,000 in personal probate property (not real estate) – avoid probate, which cost thousands. Before the recent amendment, the affiant need only swear, upon penalty of perjury, that funeral expenses were paid or unpaid, name the funeral debtor, and name the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate. Now, the affiant must provide the name, address, and amount of all the decedents known unpaid debtors, who fall in the following categories: (1) Funeral and burial expenses, administration expenses; (2) surviving spouse or child’s awards; (3) federal taxes or other debts due the U.S.; (4) certain monies due employees for services provided within a provided period; (5) money or property that is in trust but cannot be identified or traced; (6) debts due the state or any state municipality; and (7) all other claims. Moreover, these claims must be paid from the decedent’s estate. Finally, unlike before the SEA now requires a notary. Given the addition of the claimants added to the SEA requirements, individuals using the Illinois Small Estate Affidavit must be very careful to ensure that all known debtors are listed because perjury is a felony.
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