California law allows “small estates” of personal property (not land – also referred to as “real property”) to be collected without probate. It is typically a very simple and inexpensive process, especially when compared to probating an estate. One downside has been that a small estate’s gross value, until recently, had to be less than $166,250.00.
However, as of April 1, 2022, this amount has increased to $184,500.00 for deaths occurring after April 1, 2022. For deaths before April 1, 2022 the amount remains at $166,250.00. See Probate Code §13100. and Probate Code §890. A list of of values for both personal and real property click here.
In order to use the procedure, all of the following must be true:
- No probate proceedings have been initiated;
- 40 days must have elapsed since the decedent’s passing; and,
- The total gross value of assets is no greater than $150,000.00 not including the following assets:
- Joint tenancy property;
- Beneficiary designations;
- Motor vehicles registered with the DMV;
- Manufactured homes, campers, etc.
This applies to both real property (houses and land) and personal property (all other property). However, if real real property is involved, a court request is necessary but is far quicker and less expensive than a full probate. Personal property can be collected by a affidavit so long as it meets certain requirements. See Probate Code §13150.