Ca small estate affidavit 2020

Ca small estate affidavit 2020 DEFAULT

Simplified Procedures to Transfer an Estate

If you have the legal right to inherit personal property, like money in a bank account or stocks, and the estate is worth $166,250 or less, you may NOT have to go to court. There is a simplified process you can use to transfer the property to your name. The value of the property is based on what it was worth on the date of death —not on what the property is worth now.

  • Keep in mind, this process CANNOT be used for real property, like a house or land.  Talk to a lawyer for help to determine whether you may be able to use another simplified procedure to transfer real property.

To use the simplified process for transferring personal property:

First, figure out if the value of all the decedent’s property (the estate) is $166,250 or less. To do this:


  • All real and personal property.
  • All life insurance or retirement benefits that will be paid to the estate (but not any insurance or retirement benefits designated to be paid to some other person).

Do not include:

  • Cars, boats or mobile homes.
  • Real property outside of California.
  • Property held in trust, including a living trust.
  • Real or personal property that the person who died owned with someone else (joint tenancy).
  • Property (community, quasi-community, or separate) that passed directly to the surviving spouse or domestic partner.
  • Life insurance, death benefits or other assets not subject to probate that pass directly to the beneficiaries.
  • Unpaid salary or other compensation up to $16,625 owed to the person who died.
  • The debts or mortgages of the person who died. (You are not allowed to subtract the debts of the person who died.)
  • Bank accounts that are owned by multiple persons, including the person who died.

For a complete list, see California Probate Code section 13050 .

If the total value of these assets is $166,250 or less and 40 days have passed since the death, you can transfer personal property by writing an affidavit. There is a special form for this that you can get from most banks and lawyers. Your court’s self-help center may also have this form or a sample you can use to guide you.

To use to Affidavit process:

1. Fill out the Affidavit.

Many banks and other institutions have their own affidavit. So, check with them first and ask for one. Your court's self-help center may also have this form or click for a sample form you may be able to use.

  • You can list all assets in one affidavit. Or you can do one affidavit for each asset.

2. Attach (to the affidavit):

  • A certified copy of the death certificate of the person who died.
  • Proof that the person who died owned the property (like a bank passbook, storage receipt, stock certificate).
  • Proof of your identity (like a driver's license or passport)
  • An Inventory and Appraisal (form DE-160) of all real property owned by the decedent in California.  You will need to get this form signed by a probate referee.  If there is no real property, then you do not need this form.

3. Have the affidavit notarized.

Legally, you are not required to have the affidavit notarized BUT many institutions will ask you to, so it is a good idea to notarize it before you try to use it to transfer the property.

4. If there are other people entitled to inherit the property, they MUST also sign the affidavit.

This shows you all agree that the property listed on your affidavit can be transferred to you.

5. To have the property transferred to you, give the affidavit to the person, company, or bank that has the property now.

NOTE: Make sure the case is not already in probate court. If it is, you cannot use the affidavit process unless the personal representative of the estate agrees in writing to let you do so.




A very common non-probate transfer is the use of affidavits to transfer personal property if the gross value of the decedent’s real and personal property in California does not exceed the $150,000 or $166,250 threshold amount and if 40 days have elapsed since the death of the decedent, the successor of the decedent may, without procuring letters of administration or awaiting probate of the will. This is a cumulative $150,000 or $166,250 of qualifying assets even if at different financial institutions. The valuation date is not the date of death but rather the date of the affidavit signing. This only works for personal property and does not work for real estate. Also, a Prob C §13100 declaration can often be used to get the items out of a safe deposit box.

There is no appraisal required. Also, no bond is required. There is no publication. The Court does not issue Letters. In fact, Prob C §13100 generally has absolutely no Court involvement whatsoever and is not filed in Court, unless someone commits fraud or in some other rare situations. It is simply a signed affidavit, under the penalty of perjury, declaring a number of items required by the probate code. Some financial institutions have their own small estate forms which they may ask you to use. The affidavit form for Riverside County can be found at The affidavit form for San Bernardino County can be found at

A key point with using Prob C §13100 small estate affidavits is that not all assets count toward the applicalble $150,000 or $166,250. Prob C §13050 specifically excludes items from the calculation, including:

  1. Any vehicle registered under Division 3 (commencing with Section 4000) of the Vehicle Code or titled under Division 16.5 (commencing with Section 38000) of the Vehicle Code.
  2. Any vessel numbered under Division 3.5 (commencing with Section 9840) of the Vehicle Code.
  3. Any manufactured home, mobilehome, commercial coach, truck camper, or floating home registered under Part 2 (commencing with Section 18000) of Division 13 of the Health and Safety Code.
  4. The value of the following property shall be excluded in determining the value of the decedent’s property in this state:

(1) Any amounts due to the decedent for services in the Armed Forces of the United States.

(2) The amount, not exceeding sixteen thousand six hundred twenty-five dollars ($16,625), as adjusted periodically in accordance with Section 890, of salary or other compensation, including compensation for unused vacation, owing to the decedent for personal services from any employment.

There are a number of potential disadvantages in using the summary procedure.

  1. Possible Disagreement Among Decedent’s Successors in Interest. If the decedent died intestate and the assets are separate property, the successors could be a spouse or registered domestic partner and children from another marriage or relationship. All of the successors to the assets being transferred would be required to sign the affidavit. Serious problems could arise if these parties do not get along and cannot agree on who is entitled to what portion of the property and whether the property is community or separate property.
  2. Decedent’s Liabilities. You must know the extent of the decedent’s liabilities, e.g., whether there is credit card debt or last illness expenses far in excess of the assets to be collected. A further consideration is that if all the assets collected are used to pay the decedent’s debts, the successor in interest may be paying more than the proportional share attributable to the asset than would have been assessed in a probate. In sum, when there are issues concerning substantial or unknown liabilities, use of probate administration may be more appropriate. If the decedent has significant debt issues, you should weigh the “benefit” of giving formal notice in a probate administration, and the time bar built into a Notice to Creditors, versus using the informal, summary procedure. .
  3. Refusal to Accept. In addition, some property holders initially refuse to accept a Prob C §13100 affidavit or declaration. Sometimes transfer agents of small non-publicly traded securities, as well as small independent banks or brokerage houses, need to be persuaded to act in accordance with the law.
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How to File a Small Estate Affidavit in California

Probating a will can be both a time-consuming and an expensive process. These are two reasons that the California Probate Code 13050 has created a procedure that allows a beneficiary to inherit a small estate without jumping through all the hoops of a formal probate proceeding. Preparing a small estate affidavit in California is simple and fast.

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Estate Qualification

Because this process is only for small estates, the total estate must be worth $150,000 or less. This process is not to be used for transferring title to real property (such as a home), although the value of real and personal property of the deceased is included in the calculation. To determine if your loved one's estate qualifies, you need to total all the property they owned and add in any life insurance or retirement benefits that are paid to the estate (not those that are payable to another person).

As stated by the California Judicial Branch, you do not include the following items in your total:

  • Cars, boats, or mobile homes
  • Real property outside of the state of California
  • Property held in trust, including a living trust
  • Real or personal property that the person who died owned with someone else (joint tenancy)
  • Property (community, quasi-community, or separate) that passed directly to the surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • Life insurance, death benefits, or other assets not subject to probate that pass directly to the beneficiaries
  • Unpaid salary or other compensation up to $5,000 owed to the person who died
  • The debts or mortgages of the person who died (and you are not allowed to subtract the debts of the person who died)
  • Bank accounts that are owned by multiple persons, including the person who died

The final total must not exceed $150,000 in order to qualify for the California small estate affidavit form.

Your Qualification

You're entitled to use the small estate procedure if you have a legal right to inherit from the deceased. People who qualify include a beneficiary in the deceased's will and the guardian or conservator of the estate.

If the deceased died without a will (intestate), then you must be someone who has a right to inherit under the state intestacy inheritance law (spouse, child, or possibly other relatives if no spouse or child exists).

The estate must not already be in probate court before you begin your procedure. If it is, the personal representative of the estate must agree in writing to let you file a small estate affidavit.

California Small Estate Affidavit Instructions

If you and the estate qualify, then you can complete the affidavit. Follow these steps:

1. Obtain and complete the California small estate affidavit. You must obtain the form used by the probate court in the county where the deceased was a resident. You can obtain it in person or by accessing your court's self-help center online and downloading the form there. Follow the instructions on the form to complete it.

2. Include attachments. You will need to attach the following documents to the affidavit of a small estate:

  • A certified copy of the death certificate of the person who died
  • Proof that the deceased owned the property you are listing (bank statements, storage receipts, stock certificates, etc.)
  • Proof of your identity (a driver's license, state ID, or passport)
  • An Inventory and Appraisal(Form DE-160) of all real property owned by the decedent in California. Get this form signed by a probate referee at the court before attaching it (call the court and ask how to get it signed). If there is no real property, then you do not need this form.

3. Obtain other signatures. If anyone else is legally entitled to inherit from the deceased, they must sign the affidavit, agreeing to let you inherit all of the property you have listed.

4. Get the documents notarized. While the state of California does not require you to get the form notarized, you will need to present the document to financial institutions to get the deceased's property transferred, and they will require that it be notarized.

5. Transfer the property. You must wait until 40 days after the date of death to take the affidavit and attachments to any person or company holding the property you are seeking to have transferred to you.

The small estate affidavit procedure for California is relatively simple to complete and allows you to obtain access to your loved one's property quickly. Whether an estate is large or small, it is important to have estate planning documents in place—before they are needed.

Avoiding Probate: How to Fill Out a California Small Estate Affidavit

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