What is a Small Valued Estate?
A small valued estate is typically an estate where the total value of assets is less than $166,250. Keep in mind, to use this process the estate must include both personal and real property. Refer to this other article on how to settle a small valued estate under $166,250 if your estate does not include real property.
How to Determine Value of Estate
It is important to remember to exclude certain assets when determining the value of an estate. These assets include joint tenancy, assets passing to a surviving spouse, accounts with multiple joint tenancy owners, life estates, property with Transfer on Death deeds, life insurance benefits paid directly to the beneficiaries, vehicles, outstanding salary valued at $5,000 or less, and assets held in trust.
Simplified Probate Procedures
One of several simplified probate procedures in California is the affidavit procedure under California Probate Code §13150. This process allows for the transfer of all real estate and personal property in the estate to the heirs so long as the total value of all assets in the estate is no more than $166,250. You can use a small estate petition to transfer estates that have real property, or for estates with both real and personal property. All heirs with the legal right to inherit the property must join together to file the small estate Petition.
How to Settle a Small Estate with Real Property Valued Under $166,250
To settle a small Estate with real property valued under $166,250, at least 40 days must have passed from the death of the decedent. If a probate proceeding is already on file for the estate of the decedent, then this procedure requires written permission from the estate administrator.
To start the small estate process, you must file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (form DE-130) with the court. This petition requires an Inventory and Appraisal (DE-160) of the decedent’s property. A probate referee must sign this inventory and appraisal. The petition must also include a certified copy of the death certificate and a copy of the will (if there is one).
If the estate has a value under $55,425 and includes real property, it is possible to settle the estate even faster. The process is similar to the process described above for estates under $166,250, however, there is no required court hearing.
The main advantage of using this procedure to settle a small estate, as opposed to filing full probate, is that there is only one court hearing, making the process much cheaper and faster. However, when real property is transferred using this method, the heirs/petitioners become personally liable for all unsecured debts of the decedent.
Disadvantages of Using Small Estate Procedures
There are times when using a simplified small estate probate procedure is not ideal or the best option. For example, if there is likely to be a dispute among the heirs over how much each person receives, then it is better to settle an estate through full probate and not a simplified process. If the decedent had unknown creditors or a large amount of outstanding debt, a formal probate procedure is the better choice. Why may you ask?
First and foremost, when a decedent’s property is transferred using this method, the heirs become personally liable for all unsecured debts of the decedent. Personal liability by the heirs is the biggest drawback to filing a small estate probate. In all small estate probate cases, the petitioners/heirs become personally liable for the decedent’s debts which may exceed the value of the estate.
Low-Cost Probate Help to Settle a Small Estate
No matter what probate process you need, probate in California does not need to be expensive! A People’s Choice has over 40 years of extensive experience in helping people get through the California probate process. Now that you know how to settle a small estate with real property valued under $166,250, contact A People’s Choice. You don’t need to hire an attorney, and you don’t need to complete the paperwork on your own. Not only will our office prepare all the required documents, but we will also manage the case until it is fully complete and the court approves the distribution of assets to the heirs.
Call today at 800-747-2780. Help is just a phone call away!
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