If the decedent owned few assets, it may be possible to avoid the probate process. In many states, a "small estate administration" is available. Usually, in order to qualify for a small estate administration, the decedent's assets must not include real estate and must be worth less than a threshold amount determined by the state. If a small estate administration is applicable, the parties who are entitled to receive the decedent's assets may collect those assets by way of an "affidavit," a sworn statement that is filed with the court. Even in a small estate proceeding, though, the decedent's creditors may need to be paid from the assets before any estate assets are distributed.
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