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Settle Estate Using California Small Estate Probate Affidavit

In California, as in most other states in the United States, there are special procedures for passing on property from a deceased’s estate if it qualifies as a small estate. Small estate probate proceedings can save time and effort by simplifying the necessary steps one must take settle a deceased’s estate. A california small estate probate affidavit can transfer personal property in an estate with real and personal property worth less than $150,000 without the necessity of formal probate proceedings, and thereby avoid court altogether.

There are two different California small estate probate affidavit processes that can be used depending upon whether the decedent owned real and personal property or just personal property.

To transfer personal property by non-court Affidavit, at least 40 days must have elapsed since the death of the decedent. For beneficiaries to receive property by this streamlined procedure, the person entitled to the property must present an affidavit to the person, representative corporation or institution having custody or control of the property, or acting as a registrar or transfer agent of the property, requesting that the property be delivered or transferred to them. If there are several assets to be transferred, they may all be included in one affidavit, or a separate affidavit may be used for each. When using this affidavit procedure to collect or transfer personal property, no administration proceedings may be pending or have been conducted for the decedent’s estate. An Affidavit of Domicile may also be required to transfer stocks, bonds and mutual fund accounts.
At least six months must have elapsed since the death of the decedent before a party can attempt to transfer real and personal property using this simplified process. If the estate has real property not exceeding $50,000 in value, title to the property can be obtained by the successors of the decedent by filing an Affidavit re: Real Property of Small Value with the Superior Court of the county in which the property is located and then recording a certified copy with the county recorder. In order to use this process, no probate proceedings may be pending or have been conducted in California for the estate. Funeral expenses, last illness expenses and all unsecured debts of the decedent must have been paid before the affidavit is filed. All beneficiaries or heirs to the estate must sign the affidavit.

The Affidavit re: Real Property of Small Value must specify the value of the deceased’s estate. To calculate how much the estate is worth, the beneficiary or heir must add up the value of the deceased’s personal and real property. The deceased’s real property refers to land owned by the deceased. Some property is excluded from the calculations, including:

  • Any property the deceased held together with another person in joint tenancy;
  • Property where the deceased only had a life interest that was terminated by death;
  • Real property found outside California;
  • Property that can pass to the deceased’s spouse by law; and
  • Several other types of property, including certain vehicles and motorhomes.

Life insurance benefits paid directly to beneficiaries and heirs are also not included in the calculations. However, if the benefits are paid to the estate, they can count toward the $150,000. One must also attach the following documents to an affidavit before presenting it to a bank or other institution holding the property:

  • A certified copy of the deceased’s death certificate;
  • Proof that the deceased owned the property used to calculate the $150,000 amount;
  • Proof of the identity of the person seeking the property transfer;
  • Completion of the required court form
  • An Inventory and Appraisal form signed by a probate referee specifying all real property owned by the deceased in California.

Use A People’s Choice to Help Settle Your Estate Using a California Small Estate Probate Affidavit Process

If you are considering settling an estate by using a California small estate probate affidavit and want to avoid the high cost of attorney’s fees, contact A People’s Choice for low-cost legal document assistance. Although we cannot give legal advice, A People’s Choice can help you in preparing the California small estate probate affidavit without having to hire a lawyer.

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!


If you or an heir need more information about California probate and the various California simplified probate procedures that are available, please feel free to call our office. A People’s Choice has been providing self-help legal document services for over 30 years and has established an excellent reputation in the community.  The process can be started through our convenient online system, over the phone or in person.

By | 2018-01-18T15:47:56+00:00 October 4th, 2014|Estate Planning, Probate, Real Property|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

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