Does California have a Simplified Probate Process?

Does California have a Simplified Probate Process? (1)

Does California Have an Easier Probate Process?


The simple answer to this question is yes, California has a simple and faster probate process for small estates that qualify. 



What is Real Property, and What is Personal Property?


Real Property is, generally speaking, land and everything that is attached or built into it.  Personal Property is everything else that is not Real Property such as anything that is tangible, movable property that is capable of being touched, felt, seen, or perceived by the senses. 



Who may use the California Small Estate Affidavit?


Heirs of the estate may use the small estate affidavit process.  It is not likely a good idea to use this process if the estate has a large amount of debt or where the estate is insolvent, or where the beneficiaries disagree about how the assets should be distributed.  In order to use this small estate procedure, 40 days must have passed since death, and no formal probate proceeding may have been opened.  Further, the estate assets (real and personal) must be valued at, or less than $150,000, and the value of the assets are determined at the time of the decedents death.  If the decedent owned real property, California Probate Code section 13200 provides for the transfer of real property valued up to $50,000 by the affidavit procedure (and there are some different requirements associated with this). 

What Assets Are Involved in the $150,000 Limit?

  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks, bonds, or mutual funds
  • real property valued at up to $50,000
  • similar type assets owned in the decedents name alone

What Items Are Excluded from the $150,000 Limit?

The items not included in the decedents estate include:

  • Property held in joint tenancy
  • Items held in a Trust, or Living Trust
  • Cars or vehicles
  • Retirement accounts such as an IRA
  • Life insurance or other accounts with a beneficiary designation
  • Pay on Death accounts


Because we live in the San Diego area, the requirement that the real property be valued at less than $50,000 is not usually a reality.  If real property is owned, it is almost always advisable to have a proper estate plan in place.  Not just to avoid probate, but to plan for incapacity, and better control how our estate is handled after our passing, and potentially provide some protection for our beneficiary from predators, creditors, bad marriages, or even from themselves.  


See lots of estate planning information on my website at:


For this and other significant reasons, a proper Estate Plan is important to have in place.  We do our best to care for ourselves and those we care most about.  Call me and let’s get your Estate Plan together to get you the peace of mind it provides.


Thanks for reading my blog.

William Daniel Powell


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This document is for informational purposes only.  Nothing in this is to be considered legal advice.  Nothing in this shall create an attorney/client relationship, nor shall it create a confidential relationship.  If you need legal advice (in California), feel free to contact me or someone licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.  I assume no liability or responsibility for actions taken, or not taken, as a result of reading this information

Also, please remember that I speak in generalities in my blog and my website. There are so many different factors that can contribute and completely change the outcome that it would be impractical to discuss all of them here.


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