Avoiding the probate process when transferring a decedent’s property to heirs or beneficiaries can decrease one’s stress level when dealing with a decedent’s estate. It is sometimes possible to take advantage of various California simplified probate procedures to transfer property without going through probate court. There are two main ways of transferring real property through optional California simplified probate procedures that will avoid the estate having to endure a lengthy probate proceeding. For decedent’s that did not own real property at the time of death, transfer of non-real property personal assets can typically be resolved by a simple affidavit if the assets total under $150,000.

Transfer Real Property Valued at $50,000 or Less Using California Simplified Probate Procedures

If the real property is valued at $50,000 or less, one may transfer the ownership through affidavit. The earliest an heir or beneficiary may file an affidavit to transfer real property is six months after the decedent died. After those six months, the heir or beneficiary may file an affidavit in the county in which the decedent lived before he or she died, or if the deceased lived out-of-state, in a county where he or she owned real property. In order to make use of this process, one must first pay off the deceased’s unsecured debts and funeral costs.   The affidavit must contain the following information: (1)   The decedent’s name; (2)   The date and place of decedent’s death; (3)  A legal description of the real property; (4) The percentage ownership or interest the decedent held in the real estate; (5)  Confirmation that the total gross value of all the decedent’s real property in California does not exceed $50,000; (6) Language as provided in the statute stating that there is no probate case pending, or that the personal representative of the estate allowed for the filing of the affidavit; (6) Additional statements as required by law.

Transfer Real Property Valued at $150,000 or Less Using California Simplified Probate Procedures

For real property valued at $150,000 or less, one may transfer title via court order. One may also make use of this process to transfer a combination of real and personal property, but not personal property alone. There are certain kinds of real property that are excluded from this process, including property held jointly between the decedent and others, property held in trusts, or other property excluded under law. One may not include any of these types of property in a current or past probate proceeding, and all heirs must sign off on transferring the real property through affidavit. The person seeking transfer must file a petition to determine succession to real property with the Court Clerk, and set a hearing. Five days before the hearing, that person must also file an order determining succession to real property. Once the petition is approved and the judge signs off on it, the petitioner may obtain title. The petitioner is then responsible for settling the decedent’s debts, up to the value of the property at the time of death. In order to get marketable title, that is, title that is fully transferable in a sale without any doubt about ownership, the petitioner should take the certified copy of the affidavit or court order to the County Recorder of the county where the real property is located.

Low-Cost Help For California Simplified Probate Procedures

If you are considering utilizing one of the California simplified probate procedures to settle an estate in California and want to avoid the high cost of attorney’s fees, contact A People’s Choice for low-cost legal document help. Although we cannot give legal advice, A People’s Choice can help you in preparing all the required legal documents to help you settle the estate through a California simplified probate process without having to hire a lawyer.

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If you need more information about California probate and the various California simplified probate procedures that are available, do not hesitate to call our office. A People’s Choice has been providing self-help legal document services for over 35 years and has established an excellent reputation in the community.  Probate does not have to be expensive and you do not need an attorney to file probate. You can start the probate process through our convenient online system, over the phone or in person.