It comes as a surprise to many that when a person passes away with assets, his or her estate may be able to avoid probate. In California, when assets and property can bypass probate, they may be able to do so through something called a simplified proceeding. If you have questions about a loved one’s estate, you will need to know: What is a simplified proceeding in California?
What Happens During California Probate?
When a person dies, his or her property has to be legally transferred to their heirs after any qualifying debts are paid. To put it very simply, the probate court will oversee the process of identifying the decedent’s assets, liabilities, and debtors, and approve various tasks before heirs are paid. However, probate involves numerous phases that could potentially become complicated and time-consuming for those involved.
What is Simplified Probate?
Under California law, if the gross value of the decedent’s real and personal property in California is not more than $166,250, and 40 days have passed since the individual died, his or her successor may be able to transfer ownership of inherited assets through a simplified or summary probate. To qualify, the individual’s estate must not be under probate administration, or if the estate is under administration, the personal representative must have consented to using simplified probate.
The Simplified Probate Processes
If an estate meets the legal requirements for simplified probate, assets can pass to heirs in one of the following circumstances:
- Personal property valued under $166,250, can be collected using an affidavit. However, there cannot be any estate administration proceedings pending on the estate or, if the administration has started, the personal representative will need to consent in writing to using a simplified probate process.
- Real Property valued under $55,425 can also be transferred by affidavit of Real Property of Small Value in the Superior Court in the county where the decedent was domiciled, or if he or she lived out of state, where the property is located. The affidavit cannot be filed until six months after the individual’s death, and the law requires that no proceeding is being or has been conducted in California to administer the estate or that the personal representative has consented in writing to use this process. Additionally, the law requires that all [f]uneral expenses, expenses of last illness, and all unsecured debts of the decedent have been paid” before the affidavit can be filed.
- When property is valued at $166,250 or less, heirs can also file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property. This process can be used for some personal as well as real property.
- Marital property that a spouse is legally entitled to receive, such as community property and quasi-community property, can also be passed outside of probate when a surviving spouse files a Spousal Property Petition.
In many circumstances, estates have complicating factors that make going through probate a necessity. Numerous requirements must be met before an estate can qualify for a simplified process, and if you are considering using one, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced California probate attorney to examine your situation.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California estate planning attorneys who can help you evaluate your loved one’s estate and consider your probate options. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. https://www.salvolaw.com/