What is an Affidavit of Heirship?

Tim and Katie Dye of Upward Home Solutions with their home renovation tools.

Wondering what an affidavit of heirship looks like? Legal language can get a little overwhelming. Sometimes it helps to break down those ten-dollar words into something we can all understand. So what is an affidavit of heirship exactly? Let’s take a look.

signing affidavit of heirship

If you simply need a template, skip to the bottom of this article for affidavit samples you can use to draft your form.

What does an affidavit of heirship do?

To put it simply, an affidavit of heirship is the document that allows you to claim legal control of the assets of someone who has passed away without leaving a will. It is a declaration and an identifier of the heirs of the deceased person.

With this affidavit, the holder is able to claim ownership of property, vehicles, and other personal property. The death of a loved one is never easy and when you add in the legal side of divvying up belongings and/or liquefying assets, it can be stressful on everyone involved.

For instance, it can be a hassle deciding how to sell a deceased person’s home when there is no will stating who it should go to. It’s an extra hoop you probably wish you didn’t have to jump through. But that’s where the affidavit of heirship comes in.

In the instance of a property, the affidavit of heirship is your ticket to selling the inherited home and moving on.

When do you use it?

Let’s say a family member or your loved one has passed away and left no will. You believe that some personal property belongs to you, but how do you prove it?

An affidavit of heirship allows you to execute a transfer of property after death without a will. It lets you prove ownership without going through probate, so long as you’re able to distribute the personal property between all existing heirs.

Green door and a green window. What is an Affidavit of Heirship?

What goes into an affidavit of heirship form?

Here are the basic elements you must include in your form. These things may differ from state to state — please make sure you visit sites such as LegalMatch to get a more complete picture of your own state’s laws and codes.

LegalTemplates identifies 6 parts to the form:

  1. Party Information
  2. Heirs
  3. Real Estate and Personal Property
  4. Debts and Liabilities
  5. Attachments
  6. Proof of Execution

Sure, but what do these terms mean?

Good question! Let’s take more of an in-depth look.

Also, bear in mind that before the form is made official — LegalNotes explains this — “An Heirship Affidavit must be signed by two witnesses who have no interest or stake in the matter.” This is to prevent any persons from using the passing of the decedent (the recently deceased individual) for their own selfish ends.

Party Information

This section consists of a sort of a list of who is involved in your case. It should include the names of your witnesses as well as the decedent. Additionally, your party information should include the decedent’s final address and their dates of birth and death.

Heirs

Pretty self-explanatory. If you are not the sole heir, you must list the others here. You’ll also need to mention each heir’s relationship to the decedent and the dates of when they knew each other.

Real Estate and Personal Property

This is the meat and potatoes of your affidavit of heirship. Specificity is key here, so go into as much detail as possible about all properties and/or real estate in question for transfer. LegalNotes suggests that you add “a complete legal description of the property, which you can find on the deed and other records.”

This should also include any bank accounts and other financial assets along with the account numbers and financial institutions where the accounts are held.

Debts and Liabilities

If you are aware of them, note any outstanding debts or financial liabilities.

Attachments

You can attach any documents that support your affidavit here.

Proof of Execution

Lastly, for proof of execution, you will need to have a notary sign and seal the document. From there, you’re more or less off to the races! The last step is to file your affidavit of heirship with the court and, in the event of a real estate transfer, the relevant land records office.

Vintage blue car in front of a house with a gate. What is an Affidavit of Heirship?

Templates for your affidavit of heirship form

Do you like following a template on things like this? I get that. The steps above will help guide you through the templates below.

Quick note: Depending on where you live, an affidavit of heirship may require a waiting period of up to a year from the death of your loved one. Please make sure you speak to your lawyer, as they can best help you navigate your local laws and the specifics of your situation. 

Here is an extract from a full template available on LegalTemplates:

“This affidavit concerns the Heirs of the Estate of __________ (“Decedent”). I, __________, being duly sworn, hereby affirm under penalty of perjury, on this ___ day of ___________, 20___, that…”

Here is an extract from a full template available on FormsBirds:

“I,   (INSERT NAME)  of lawful age, residing at   (INSERT RESIDENCY) , being first duly sworn, upon oath deposes and says: That affiant was personally well acquainted with the above-named decedent, during his (or her) lifetime, having known him (or her) for years, and that affiant bears the following relationship to said decedent, to-wit..”

Wrapping It Up

The passing of a loved one is never easy, and it can be even more difficult when it occurs unexpectedly. The process of filing for a transfer of property after death without a will can seem like a lot, but it is doable. These tools will help you establish appropriate heirship and come out on the other side.

Our team at Upward Home Solutions is here to help. Let us know if you have any questions about affidavits of heirship or how to sell an inherited property once you establish heirship.