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How can assets from smaller estates avoid probate?

Most in San Fernando Valley will probably hear that they should try to avoid probate at all costs. While the standard way to avoid probate that most are familiar with is to put assets into a living trust, are you aware that smaller estates may also be able to bypass the probate court?   According to the website for The Judicial Branch of California, you can attempt to gain access to any personal property that you’re entitled to through a written affidavit.

First foremost, this action is only available to you within 40 days of your loved one’s death. If you are able to submit the request during that time table, you must then determine the total value of the estate. Included in this should be any retirement benefits or life insurance disbursements that are included in the estate. Your loved one’s real and personal property will also be included in this calculation. However, you should not include the values of any of the following properties:  

  •          Properties included in a living trust
  •          Joint tenancy property or community property
  •          Real estate property outside of the state
  •          Personal vehicles
  •          Recreational vehicles
  •          Boats and other watercraft

Employee benefits and salary owed to the deceased should also not be included, nor should shared bank accounts, or death benefits that pass directly to beneficiaries. The liabilities of the state should also not be included.

If the total value of the estate comes out to be less than $150,000, you can fill out an affidavit with the court to have the holder of the property release it you. Real property may not subject to the same process. If the real property value of the estate is less than $150,000, you need to file a special petition with the court to consider its succession.


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Woodland Hills, CA 91364

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