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California’s Easy Probate Process for Real Estate of Small Value

Whenever a decedent owns real estate, there must be some type of procedure to transfer the real estate to the heirs. If the decedent had a living trust in California, the process is typically handled outside of court and is pretty straightforward. An estate attorney would handle the process and paperwork for the trustee. But, if the decedent didn’t have an estate plan, then the process of transferring real property must be supervised by the probate court. The process may take a few months, and there are expensive probate fees involved. Quick reminder – probate fees in California are set by law and are calculated based on the gross value of the probate estate!

Fortunately, when the real estate is of small value (rare in California!), there is an easier and faster procedure to transfer the real estate to the heirs. Probate Code 13200 allows for the transfer of real estate to the heirs by an affidavit so long as all the real estate owned by the decedent is valued at less than $55,425.

This affidavit is filed at the court to transfer property to the person(s) entitled to have it, then recorded at the county recorder in the county where the real property is located. There is no court hearing involved, just a trip to the probate clerk’s office and then the County Recorder. However, unlike other probate procedures, this document cannot be filed sooner than six months from the date of death.

There are several steps to complete the affidavit process:

● First, you will want a copy of the most recent recorded property deed. You can get this from the County Recorder’s office. Having this deed is essential as it will confirm who, in fact, is the current owner.

● You will need the death certificate of the decedent. This document is required for filing, and the affidavit requires information found on this certificate. An original certified copy is required (copies will not work). You can also obtain this certificate from the County Recorder’s office.

● The court needs to confirm that the property value is, in fact, under the limit, and they do this by requiring a Probate Referee to appraise the property.

● Once you have your death certificate, inventory and appraisal, and completed affidavit, you can notarize all signatures on the affidavit.

While this process is one of the easier probate processes, there is potential for challenges along the way. It’s a good idea to hire a professional to help make the process as smooth as possible.

If you need assistance with your affidavit or administration of an estate, give us a call. We are happy to help!

Meza Talbott Law (909)377-8141 Claremont, California



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