Oftentimes, individuals who choose to DIY their probate download blank forms from the internet. However, it is very important to obtain your California probate forms and miscellaneous forms from reputable sources. That’s why we’ve provided links to the most common forms required to probate an estate in California in this article. Additionally, you’ll find information about where you can get free and low-cost probate help for many different situations.

Unfortunately, even once you have the right forms, filling out probate forms on your own can be overwhelming. If you are completing DIY probate, consider contacting A People’s Choice. We are an inexpensive, non-attorney legal document assistant with over 40 years of experience preparing and filing California probate forms!

California Probate Forms For Small Estates

There are three small estate processes in California that allow beneficiaries to settle estates valued under $166,250:

1. Non-Court Affidavit Process for Estates Valued Under $166,250 (Without Real Property)

California Probate Code Section 13100 discusses the process of settling an estate in California in one specific scenario: when a decedent (person who died) did not own real property (real estate) and had personal assets under $166,250. Under this section of the probate code, estate representatives can handle estates like this in a simpler way. They just submit an affidavit to the institution holding the decedent’s personal property requesting to transfer the assets to the proper beneficiaries.

This affidavit saves you from a formal probate and family court probate process. However, you must notarize the affidavit and submit it alongside a death certificate for this to work.

2. Probate and Family Court Process for Estates Valued Under $55,425 (Includes Real Property)

Beneficiaries can file an Affidavit Regarding Real Property of Small Value if the decedent owned real estate, but the total value of the decedent’s real and personal property is less than $55,425. In this type of proceeding, executors must complete the following probate forms and file them with the court:

DE-160 (Inventory and Appraisal) DE-161 (Inventory and Appraisal Attachment)

The court does not require a hearing to settle a decedent’s estate under this small estate process.

California Probate Forms for Spousal Property Petition

A spousal property petition makes things easier a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner. If one partner dies, the surviving partner can transfer or confirm property to themselves using a simplified probate proceeding.

Typically, this proceeding requires only one court appearance. This appearance settles questions of title or ownership regarding the surviving spouse’s interest in the decedent’s property.

To begin the process, the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner must complete and file the following documents:

DE-226 (Spousal or Domestic Partner Property Order DE-120 (Notice of Hearing)

Additionally, you must attach a copy of the decedent’s will and death certificate to the petition. The court requires a hearing when settling a decedent’s estate under this small estate process.

  1. California Probate Forms for Large Estates

    For estates valued greater than $166,250, you’re stuck with the general probate process unless the decedent made special arrangements before their death. Here’s what’s required in the way of California probate forms to initiate full probate of an estate:
    Submit the original will along with this form in addition to the following forms:

    DE-131 (Proof of Subscribing Witness) DE-142 (Waiver of Bond By Heir or Beneficiary) DE-147S (Confidential Supplement) DE-121 (Notice of Petition to Administer Estate) DE-147 (Duties and Liabilities of Personal Representative) DE-140 (Order for Probate) DE-150 (Letters)

    Once the court enters the order for probate and issues letters, you need the following additional probate forms to complete the process.

    • Notice to Franchise Tax Board (Not a judicial council form. This is a custom pleading).
    • Petition for Supervised Administration.

    DE-161 (Inventory and Appraisal Attachment) DE 120 (Notice of Hearing of Petition for Final Distribution)

    • Petition for Final Distribution (Not a judicial council form. This is a custom pleading).
    • Beneficiary Receipts (Not a judicial council form. This is a custom pleading).

    DE – 295 (Ex Parte Petition for Final Discharge)

Where to Find Free California Probate Forms

Keep in mind that the standardized forms identified above are a brief reference to the primary standard web forms required for probate in California. In fact, there are many additional attachments and declarations that you need to include with these standard documents!

That said, if you’re looking for blank, DIY California probate forms such as real estate forms, trust forms, gift tax forms, accounting forms, bond forms, closing forms, criminal forms, environmental forms, and other popular forms, you can obtain these copies of forms from a variety of places. Check out the following sources:

  • Local courthouse website
  • Local self-help center
  • Online California state website
  • Local county courthouse website
  • A probate service provider such as A People’s Choice

Be cautious when obtaining any type of form online! Check well to be sure that you are not obtaining outdated forms. Also, make sure that you are obtaining forms with valid formats compatible with document software such as Adobe Acrobat for any PDF file. You can ascertain this by running the forms through http://www.adobe.com/forms to be sure the form you are obtaining is valid on Adobe Acrobat. Otherwise, you may have trouble filling out the form electronically.

Things to Keep in Mind About California Probate Forms

You should not have to pay for any California judicial council probate forms, as they are always free through the California Court’s main website. However, keep in mind that not all required probate documents are judicial council forms. Some necessary documents are custom pleadings and usually require expert help to prepare them. Further, you must prepare these documents from scratch on court pleading paper.

There may also be a difference between using mandatory county local forms and the judicial council forms. This is in large part due to local county court rules regarding the formatting of pleadings.

Does this seem like a lot? That’s because it is! Oftentimes, executors require an attorneys’ knowledge and experience to properly prepare these court-specific documents. Therefore, you may benefit from hiring a probate attorney if your local county court has specific requirements. If you don’t want to pay the exorbitant costs associated with an attorney, consider A People’s Choice instead!

Low Cost Help With California Probate Forms

Even if you require assistance filling out your probate paperwork, you do not necessarily need to hire an attorney. Contact A People’s Choice first to learn about our low-cost legal document assistance services. We can help you prepare all of the required California probate forms to settle your estate. Plus, our services cost a fraction of the price of a lawyer’s. Call 1-800-747-2780 to speak with us about your DIY probate.

Get help with your California legal documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!


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