In California, small estates valued at under $150,000 which meet all of the requirements of sections 13100-13115 of the California Probate Code can still avoid going through the costly and time consuming probate process even if the decedent failed to create or fund a trust.
To qualify the total estate may not exceed $150,000 in value and both the decedent's real and personal property in California must be considered in determining the total value of the estate. Insurance policy and retirement plan proceeds payable to the estate as the designated beneficiary must also be included in determining whether the total value of the estate exceeds $150,000.
The following property is excluded in determining whether the total value of the estate exceeds $150,000:
•Vehicles and other state-registered property: automobiles, "nonmotor" vehicles such as trailers, mobile homes, manufactured homes, commercial coaches, truck campers, floating homes and undocumented vessels;
•Unpaid salary: any amounts due to the decedent for services in the armed forces and up to $5,000 in unpaid salary or other compensation (including compensation for unused vacation) owing to the decedent for personal services from any employment;
•Joint tenancy interests, life estates, and property passing outright to a surviving spouse: all property held by the decedent in joint tenancy, or in which the decedent had a life estate or other interest which terminated at death, or that passes outright to the decedent's surviving spouse under Probate Code section 13500;
•Multiple-party accounts:any multiple-party account to which the decedent was a party at death to the extent the funds pass directly to a surviving party, payable-on-death payee or beneficiary; and
•Inter vivos trust assets: all property held in a living trust.
The process is not simple and has many complex requirements which should discourage anyone from trying to complete the without experienced legal assistance, however it is still quicker and less expensive than going through probate.
The Law Collaborative, Los Angeles, has flat fee packages available for those who qualify for the small estate administration process so you can know and budget in advance during the challenging period which follows the death of a loved one. Call us today at (818) 348-6700 to schedule your free consultation.