TN 12 (03-14)

GN 02315.087 Washington Small Estates

A. Policy for Washington small estate affidavit procedure

1. Washington small estate affidavit overview

For a small estate that does not exceed $100,000, any time after 40 days after the date of death, a claiming successor may present an affidavit requiring payment of indebtedness. Wash. Rev. Code § 11.62.010(1). If more than one affidavit is delivered about the same claim, payment may be issued in response to the first affidavit received, provided proof of death has been received; alternately, the funds may be impleaded into court for payment to the person entitled. Wash. Rev. Code § 11.62.020. Request adequate evidence if a person claims to be the personal representative. For a discussion of adequate documentation for legal representatives, see GN 02301.035.

An affidavit may be filed by:

  1. a “successor” or “successors” who are entitled to property of the decedent by will or by the laws of intestate succession;

  2. the decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner to the extent that person is entitled to the property claimed as his or her undivided one-half interest in the community property;

  3. the department of social and health services, to recover medical assistance paid on behalf of the decedent; or

  4. the state, for escheat property. Wash. Rev. Code §§ 11.62.005(2), 11.62.010(1) & (2), 43.20B.080.

The affidavit must state:

  1. the successor’s name and address, and that he or she is a successor as defined by statute;

  2. the decedent was a resident of the State of Washington on the date of death;

  3. that the value of the decedent’s total estate subject to probate, not including the surviving spouse’s or domestic partner’s community property interest in assets subject to probate, wherever located, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed $100,000;

  4. 40 days have elapsed since the decedent’s death;

  5. no application or petition for appointment of a personal representative is pending or was granted in any jurisdiction;

  6. all of the decedent’s debts, including funeral and burial expenses, were paid or provided for;

  7. a description of the personal property and portion claimed, with a statement that such personal property is subject to probate;

  8. the claiming successor gave written notice by personal service or mail, identifying his or her claim and describing the property claimed, to all other successors of the decedent and at least 10 days have elapsed since service or mailing of such notice; and

  9. the claiming successor is either personally entitled to full payment or delivery of the property claimed or is entitled to full payment or delivery on behalf of and with written authority from all other successors who have an interest. Wash. Rev. Code § 11.62.010(2).

2. Washington good acquittance

The person (including an organization) turning over property in accordance with the above affidavit procedure is discharged and released to the same extent as if dealing with a personal representative of the decedent, except if such person, at the time of payment, had “actual knowledge” (i.e., it was brought to the attention of SSA) of the falsity of any statement required to be in the affidavit. Wash. Rev. Code §§ 11.62.005(3), 11.62.010, 11.62.020. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is not required to inquire into the truth of the affidavit or to see to the application of the property. Wash. Rev. Code § 11.62.020.

B. Additional policy for Washington good acquittance involving payment of Social Security benefits not exceeding $1,000

1. Good acquittance

If the decedent was entitled to benefits under Title II of the Act, and, not less than thirty days after the decedent’s death, SSA pays such benefits, not exceeding $1,000, to a “qualifying successor,” the payment will be deemed to be made to the decedent’s legal representative and releases SSA from liability to the same extent as if payment had been made to an executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate. Wash. Rev. Code § 11.66.010(1).

2. The following persons are “qualified successors”:

  1. the decedent’s surviving spouse;

  2. one or more of the deceased’s children, or their descendants;

  3. the secretary of social and health services (if the decedent was a resident of a state institution at the date of death and liable for costs of care in an amount at least as large as the am