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How does California administer small estates?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | PROBATE & ESTATE ADMINISTRATION - Probate

When estate assets go through the administration process, the total value of the estate plays a significant role in determining how the personal representative will administer the estate.

In California, small estates may be eligible to go through a simplified probate process or avoid probate altogether, depending on the value of the estate. The state outlines procedures to make it easier to transfer a deceased person’s assets without a formal probate if the estate qualifies as a “small estate” under California law.

Simplified probate proceedings based on estate value

In California, estates not exceeding a certain value set by state laws are considered small estates and may qualify for simplified probate proceedings, which can be any of the following procedures:

  • A small estate affidavit for estates without real property and with a value of not more than $184,500.
  • A petition to determine succession to property for estates with real property and with a value of not more than $184,500.
  • An affidavit for real property for real estate assets with a value of not more than $61,500.

Note that the values set by the laws are applicable as of writing and are subject to change. Hence, it is best to keep oneself abreast of any updates.

Moreover, these procedures have their own specific rules so it helps to meticulously conduct research about the processes and seek professional advice as to what applies to the situation.

Preparing for the process

Given the complexities and the potential issues that can arise during an estate’s administration, it may be beneficial for personal representatives to seek guidance from a knowledgeable legal professional to ensure compliance with the current laws and proper handling of the small estate. Moreover, engaging professional guidance can also help estate heirs and beneficiaries set their expectations.