As an interested party to the estate of a family member or friend in Los Angeles, you may view the prospect of said estate having to go through probate court with a certain degree of trepidation. After all, the assumption is that the probate process is costly and can eat away a good portion of an estate's assets. Many have come to us here at The Law Office of Matthew C. Yu with the same concerns. Our first question to them is what is the value of the estate? The answer to that question (in your case) will determine whether it even needs to go through probate at all.
It is not the state's intention to take away as much as it can from an estate through probate costs. Thus, it allows for smaller estates to avoid probate altogether. According to Section 13100 of California's Probate Code, estates valued at less than $150,000 do not need to be probated. However, avoiding probate is not automatic; you have to request it. You do so by signing an affidavit (under the penalty of perjury) after 40 days have elapsed since your loved one's death. Some of the information that must be submitted includes:
- Your loved one's name (along with his or her date and place of death, and a copy of his or her death certificate)
- A declaration that 40 days has passed since he or she died
- Your stated understanding that the value of his or her estate does not exceed $150,000
- A description of the property you want transferred to you
You do not need to be the estate's personal representative to commence this action (although if you are not, you need to include documentation showing you have the personal representative's consent). More details on handling small estates can be found here on our site.