Affidavit of Heirs: Speed Up The Probate Process by Locating Heirs

Clients often want to speed up the probate process.  One way that clients can help their attorney speed up the process is to provide the attorney with information about the heirs in the case.  An Affidavit of Heirs, completed by someone who is familiar with the relatives of the decedent but who is not him or herself an heir provides important information to the court in the probate case.  By identifying the heirs, the affidavit is used to speed up the probate process because it informs the court of who could be involved in the transfer of assets and where they are.   

What is an Affidavit of Heirs?

An affidavit is a statement that is written under oath and verified, usually by notarization.  This statement is useful because it can be submitted to the court as evidence.

The Affidavit of Heirs is a form that speeds up the probate process by providing information about all the relatives of the decedent.  Although requirements vary by the county that the probate court is in, the Affidavit of Heirs should be filed in every probate case to provide the court with information on the heirs.  Providing this information helps the court to designate the assets to the decedent’s heirs. 

When someone passes away without a will, their property is transferred according to the state’s law on succession.  These laws determine the order in which the assets will be divided to the decedent’s surviving relatives. The Affidavit of Heirs provides the age and location of those heirs.   

The Affidavit of Heirs is a written statement under oath that the person providing the affidavit, the affiant, has accurately provided information about the decedent’s heirs.  The Affidavit of Heirs should also be notarized once it is complete. The affiant must include the name, age, and address of all living relatives. If a relative has passed away, the affiant must provide the name and date of death for that relative.  

Complete the Affidavit of Heirs

The most difficult part of completing an Affidavit of Heirs is obtaining information about the decedent’s relatives, such as their addresses. Although this form is pretty straightforward, it becomes complicated when there are relatives that the affiant does not have all the information about.  The affiant should be someone who is familiar enough with the decedent to provide as much information as possible about the relatives. Most jurisdictions require that the person submitting the affidavit is not one of the decedent’s heirs.  

The relatives that should be included in the affidavit are the spouse, children, siblings, grandparents, and aunts and uncles of the decedent.  If any of these relatives have passed away, it is important to include the date of their death on the affidavit. The affiant will also need to know the age and address of all of the relatives.  If the children listed are not the biological children of the decedent and spouse at the time of death, the name of that child’s biological parent should also be specified. 

If possible, the complete information for each of the decedent’s relatives should be provided.  However, in some cases it is impossible to obtain the information for some of the decedent’s relatives.  If you have attempted to obtain all the information but are unable, let the attorney know so that it can be appropriately indicated on the Affidavit of Heirs.  

The forms for the Affidavit of Heirs can be found on the website for the court with which the case will be or has been filed.   

The Affidavit of Heirs is important to the probate process because it shares necessary information about the decedent’s heirs with the court.  An affiant should be someone who is familiar with the decedent’s relatives but is not one of the heirs. If you want to help speed up the process of your probate case, talk to your attorney about the Affidavit of Heirs and finding the appropriate person to complete the affidavit. 

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