What is a Small Estate?
A small estate is typically one where the total value of the decedent’s assets is less than $150,000. This amount was increased to $166,250 effective 1/1/2020. To file a small estate court probate, the estate must include both personal and real property.
Keep in mind, however, that some assets don’t count when calculating the value of an estate. These assets include:
- property in joint tenancy
- assets that pass to a surviving spouse
- accounts that have multiple owners in joint tenancy
- life estates
- property set up with a properly recorded Transfer on Death Deed
- life insurance benefits with a direct pay-on-death to specific beneficiaries
- assets held in trust
- unpaid salary valued at $5,000 or less.
Overview of Small Estate Probate Affidavit Procedure
One of several simplified probate procedures is the affidavit procedure under California Probate Code §13200. This process allows heirs to settle a small estate with real property valued under $55,425 effective 1/1/2020. Once completed, the process can quickly transfer the real property to the heirs, regardless of the total value of the estate.
The main advantage of using this procedure, as opposed to probate, is that there is no court hearing, making the process much cheaper and faster.
How to Settle Small Estate With Real Property Valued Under $55,425
To use this small estate procedure, the following must be true:
- At least six months must have passed from the death of the decedent.
- All of the funeral expenses, medical expenses, and outstanding unsecured debts of the decedent must be paid before using this method.
- If a probate proceeding has already been filed for the decedent’s estate, this procedure requires permission in writing from the estate administrator.
To transfer property this way, the heirs can file an Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value with the superior court in the county in which the property is located. Here is what you need to know:
- This affidavit requires an inventory and appraisal of the decedent’s real property.
- A probate referee must sign the inventory and appraisal
- The affidavit must also include a certified copy of the death certificate.
- The affidavit and attachments are filed with the clerk of court.
- If the clerk determines the form is complete, the clerk will issue a certified copy of the form.
- The petitioners can then take this form and record it with the county recorder’s office, and the transfer to heirs will be complete.
- This process will only transfer real property, not personal property.
Disadvantages of Using Simplified Probate Procedures
Now that you know how to settle a small estate with real property valued under $55,425, there are other considerations. First, there are times when it may not be ideal to use a simplified probate procedure. If the heirs are not in agreement, then you may want to settle the estate through full probate and not a simplified process. Secondly, the heirs must pay all unsecured debts before filing and using this process. In this regard, if the decedent had many obligations, a formal probate procedure is more favorable.
In contrast, full probate allows the petitioner to take advantage of the probate code’s rules for settling debts. Although a rare occurrence, some companies will refuse to accept an affidavit, which will require the estate to go through a formal probate proceeding. When you want to how to settle a small estate with real property, you should give thoughtful consideration to the pros and cons of this process.
Low-Cost Probate Help For Small Estates
Remember, filing probate in California does not need to be expensive! A People’s Choice has 40+ years of extensive experience in helping people complete California probate cases. Now that you know how to settle a small estate with real property valued under $55,425, we recommend you contact A People’s Choice. It’s true, you don’t need to complete the paperwork on your own, and you don’t need to hire an attorney! We are a full-service document preparation office and will prepare all the required documents for your small estate case. Also, we will help to file and manage the case until you complete it.
Don’t delay. Call today at 800-747-2780. Professional help is only a phone call away!
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