Using Affidavits of Collection for Small Estates

Using Affidavits of Collection for Small Estates

Ordinarily, property belonging that is owned by a deceased person, but is in the possession of a third party (e.g. funds kept in a bank account) must be collected by a Personal Representative who has been appointed through the probate process.  In some cases, however, assets may be collected without going through the probate process.  When a deceased person’s estate has fewer than $50,000.00 in assets and does not contain real estate, those administering the estate may be able to collect assets from third parties by using an affidavit for collection to obtain estate property from third parties.


Affidavits for collection are governed by Minnesota Statutes § 524.3-1201.   Use of an affidavit for collection is appropriate when:

  1. The estate does not contain real estate
  2. The estate has assets valued at $50,000.00 or less after liens and encumbrances have been deducted.
  3. The property that is to be collected must be listed in the decedent’s name only, with no beneficiary or joint tenant named.
  4. The party seeking to collect the property must be entitled to the property pursuant to the decedent’s Will or, if there was no Will, pursuant to Minnesota law.
  5. At least 30 days have passed since the decedent died.
  6. No probate proceeding has been initiated.



Any person who is entitled to receive a decedent’s property by law can utilize an affidavit for collection.  Once an asset is identified, that person will complete a sworn statement (called an affidavit) that includes basic information such as that person’s name, address, and reason that they are entitled to the property.  The affidavit must be signed by the person entitled to receive the property in front of a notary public.

Once the affidavit form is complete, the person can present it with a certified death certificate to the party in possession of the asset.  That party is then required to turn over possession of the asset to the entitled party.

Motor Vehicles:

This process can also be used to transfer title to a car or other motor vehicle.  As above, the entitled person must complete the affidavit of collection.  Once complete, that person can present the affidavit with a certified death certificate to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to transfer title of the vehicle into that person’s name.

Multiple Persons Entitled to Property:

In a situation where more than one person has a right to the decedent’s property, only one such person is required to complete an affidavit for collection.  That person can receive the asset, but is then required to distribute the asset or the asset’s value among all entitled parties.

Affidavits for collection can help save time and money in the administration of small estates.  Contact the attorneys at Zlimen & McGuiness to find out if this is a good choice for collecting assets in your situation.




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