Probate law in California can be confusing even to the most versed estate planners. Many estates in California are worth millions and can take years to sort out after someone’s death.
Thankfully, estates that are valued below $166,250 are considered “small estates.” These small estates are eligible for a simplified probate process.
What’s different about the simplified probate?
There are a few key differences between simplified and standard probate in California. Instead of going to a full probate court, you’ll be asked to file a series of documents to make transferring assets easier.
For example, any assets left to a surviving spouse or domestic partner can be easily transferred just by filling out these documents. You can also use small estate affidavits to transfer specific assets quickly and effectively.
How do you know an estate qualifies for simplified probate?
Generally, any estate that values under that $166,250 threshold is considered eligible for simplified probate. That doesn’t mean it will automatically go through the simplified probate process though.
The estate administrator still needs to file a handful of forms based on the assets that are included in the estate and the needs of the surviving partners or family members. These forms include but are not limited to:
• Petition to determine succession to real property
• Order determining succession to real property
• Personal property, Inventory and Appraisal, and Notice of Hearing
How do I start filing for the simplified probate process?
Generally, you’ll need to get the estate formally appraised to determine its real value. It’s important to leave a detailed estate plan listing out all assets, accounts, and beneficiaries to make the process of asking for simplified probate easier for your estate administrator and loved ones.