Bay Area Estate And Tax Planning Law Firm

How to avoid mistakes when filing a California small estate affidavit

On Behalf of | Jul 17, 2023 | Estate Planning, Probate And Estate Administration |

One way to quickly and efficiently transfer inherited property in California is by using the state’s small estate affidavit. If you are the heir to a loved one’s estate, it’s best to begin filing such an affidavit as soon as possible.

Small estates

This affidavit was specifically designed for the inheritance of small estates only. As such, not every estate may qualify. The estate’s assets must be valued at $150,000 or less. This estate should include the value of personal property, real estate, life insurance, and retirement payments that are payable to the estate.

However, in California, certain items should not be included in this total. This includes:

  • real property not in California
  • cars or trucks
  • boats
  • mobile homes or recreational vehicles
  • property in a trust
  • shared bank accounts
  • debts including mortgages
  • community property owned by the spouse of the deceased
  • property shared through joint tenancy
  • non-probate death benefits or life insurance benefits owed to other beneficiaries

Filing the affidavit

Filing a small estate affidavit in the state of California requires following certain steps. If these steps are not followed, you may end up blocked from this inheritance or have to endure a much more lengthy probate process. You should:

  • Fill out the correct form used by the corresponding probate court in your county
  • Include all appropriate attachments, including all the requested forms of ID
  • Gain signatures of all the beneficiaries included in the affidavit
  • Have the affidavit properly notarized
  • Wait 40 days after the death to request the transfer from the property holders

Overall, make sure to follow this process exactly and ensure that you avoid any errors. Errors could hold up the process and add extra complications. If you file it properly, however, the California small estate affidavit provides for a convenient way to quickly and efficiently transfer property from a small estate to beneficiaries.