You are not the Personal Representative until the will has been filed, probate started, and Letters Testamentary are issued to you. No, you don’t HAVE to submit a small estate affidavit, but your other only real option is starting probate.
You should speak to an attorney about the pros and cons of the two different approaches (including costs) and decide which approach will work better in your circumstances.
Douglas N. Kiger, Attorney at Law
Blado Kiger Bolan, Tacoma, Wash.