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Minnesota Department of Human Services MA Estate Recovery Manual
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I. Affidavit of collection

An affidavit of collection is a procedure that transfers assets of estates that would otherwise be probated and that have a net value of under $75,000. With the affidavit, there is no court appearance, no personal representative appointed, and no mailed notification to interested parties. Presenting the affidavit to the possessor of the decedent's property is sufficient to make the transfer. The affidavit can transfer only personal property. Personal property includes bank accounts, stocks, furniture, motor vehicles, and the like; it does not include real estate.

A. The right to collect by affidavit

To recover MA claims under Minnesota Statutes, section 256B.15, you may use an affidavit of collection to collect the deceased MA recipient’s personal property once 30 days or more have passed since the decedent’s death. See Minnesota Statutes, section 524.3-1201.

The affidavit can collect the decedent’s personal property in safe deposit boxes, interests in multiple-party accounts, and debts owed to the decedent. See Minnesota Statutes, sections 524.3-1201, 55.10, and 524.6-207.

There are important limitations to affidavits of collection. An affidavit of collection may be used only when the decedent’s estate consists of personal property with a net value of $75,000 or less. In addition, you cannot exercise the right to collect by affidavit when a request for appointment of a personal representative is pending.

B. How to recover by affidavit

To collect by affidavit, mail or deliver to the party in possession of the decedent’s personal property a certified copy of the death certificate and a copy of an affidavit stating:

  • • that the net value of the entire probate estate, including the contents of any safe deposit box, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed $75,000;
  • • that 30 days have passed since the decedent’s death (if the property to be collected is in a safe deposit box, state that 30 days have passed since the filing of an inventory of the contents of the box);
  • • that no application or petition for the appointment of a personal representative is pending or has been granted in any jurisdiction;
  • • the amount of the MA claim and a good faith estimate of the extent to which the decedent was the source of funds or beneficial owner of the account (if you will present the affidavit to a financial institution with a multiple-party account in which the decedent had an interest at the time of death); and
  • • that the claiming successor is entitled to payment or delivery of the property.
  • See Minnesota Statutes, sections 524.3-1201, 55.10, and 524.6-207.

    You do not have to describe or identify the property you seek to collect on. However, when collecting from a safe deposit box, you must have a bank employee witness and verify the process.

    C. Collecting on a motor vehicle

    Collect on an estate’s motor vehicle by presenting the applicable county’s motor vehicle registrar with the decedent’s death certificate and the affidavit.

    Presenting the affidavit to the registrar effectively transfers title to the decedent’s motor vehicles to you. The registrar must then issue a certificate of title for the decedent’s motor vehicle in your local agency’s name. Ensure this transfer by applying for the title.

    To clarify your authority in this collection, it may be helpful to present the registrar with a copy of the statute—Minnesota Statutes, section 524.3-1201, paragraph (d)—and a statement that your local agency is tax exempt in this situation.

    D. Duties of the party receiving an affidavit of collection

    A party receiving an affidavit of collection must:

  • • pay the debt owed to the decedent to you and turn over to you the decedent’s personal property in the party’s possession or control and
  • • discharge and release the personal property to the same extent as the party would have had it dealt with the decedent’s personal representative.
  • A court may require a party receiving an affidavit of collection to pay, deliver, transfer or otherwise turn over the personal property if the party refuses to do so voluntarily. See Minnesota Statutes, section 524.3-1202.

    Finally, ensure that an employee of an institution holding a safe deposit box you are collecting from has created an inventory of the box’s contents. See Minnesota Statutes, section 524.3-1201, paragraph (a), clause (2); see also Minnesota Statutes, section 55.10, subdivision 4, paragraph (h).

    E. Your duties to parties with a superior claim

    You must give any proceeds you receive via an affidavit of collection to any party with a superior right to those proceeds under Minnesota Statutes, sections 524.2-403 and 524.3-805. You must also answer and account to the decedent’s personal representative, or any person with a superior right to the property. As soon as you learn there is a personal representative, answer and account by:

  • • notifying the personal representative that you have received property and
  • • providing an accounting of property received.
  • F. Rights to a decedent’s interest in multiple-party accounts

    You may serve an affidavit of collection on the financial institution holding a multiple-party account in which the decedent had an interest. The affidavit must state the amount of the MA claim and provide a good faith estimate of the amount of the decedent’s interest in the multiple-party account.

    When it receives the affidavit, the financial institution must give you the lesser of (1) the amount of the claim stated in the affidavit or (2) the portion of the account that the affidavit identifies the decedent was the source of funds for or beneficial owner of.

    The financial institution where the account is located can pay the account according to its terms anytime before being presented with the affidavit of collection. If the financial institution has already paid the multiple-party account to the survivors or payable-on-death (POD) payees before receiving the affidavit of collection, you may collect by presenting those parties with the affidavit. See Minnesota Statutes, sections 524.3-1201 and 524.6-207.

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