California Small Estate Affidavit
Probate is the court administered process of transferring money, property, and other worldly possessions of a deceased person to their heirs. The probate process usually last 12 to 18 months. Probate attorney and executor fees range between 3-10% of the gross value of the estate. In California, estates valued under $150,000 can be transferred using an affidavit rather than probate. There are few fees to transfer an estate via affidavit, and the assets can be transferred as soon as 40 days after death. Read on to learn more about the California small estate affidavit.
How to Transfer an Estate Using an Affidavit
To transfer an estate using an affidavit, the heirs must first determine the total value of the estate. Assets excluded from the estate include assets held in trust, joint tenancy, Payable on Death accounts, Transfer on Death deeds, bank accounts with multiple owners, vehicles, community property inherited by a surviving spouse, assets with a named beneficiary (e.g. life insurance and pension plans), and outstanding salary valued at less than $5,000. However, accounts with named beneficiaries where the beneficiary predeceased the decedent will be included in the value of the estate. If there are non-cash assets in the estate, the estate will need to be appraised by a probate referee, and the probate referee will need to sign an Inventory and Appraisal (DE-160). If the total value of the estate is under $150,000, it can be settled with an affidavit.
How to Settle an Estate with No Real Property
To settle an estate with no real property via affidavit, an heir to the estate should obtain an affidavit form from the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. One affidavit can be used for all assets, or separate affidavits can be used for each asset. Some banks have their own affidavit forms. The heir needs to attach a copy of the Inventory and Appraisal, the death certificate, proof that the decedent owned the property listed in the affidavit, and a copy of the heir’s ID. If there is more than one heir, all of the heirs must sign the affidavit. The affidavit must be notarized. Once the affidavit is notarized and 40 days have passed since the death, property can be transferred. This affidavit procedure cannot be used for real estate.
How to Settle an Estate with Real Property
If the estate includes real estate, the heir(s) will need to file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (DE-130). The procedure for transferring real property is similar to the affidavit procedure. California also has a separate affidavit procedure for transferring real property valued less than $50,000.
If a probate proceeding has already begun for the decedent, then the heirs cannot transfer property using an affidavit unless the estate administrator gives written permission. When property is transferred by an affidavit, the transferee assumes all of the decedent’s debts, so this procedure is not advisable if the decedent had substantial debts. Contact San Diego Esquire for more information about California small estate affidavit services.
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