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Dealing with small estates

There are enough horror stories out there related to the probate process to make it understandable that most in Los Angeles would prefer to never have to be involved in it. While many of the claims made in such tales may be baseless, there is some wisdom in the advice to try and avoid probate, if possible. It's expenses are paid for out of an estate's assets, thus lowering its overall value. Most think that one has to plan ahead of time in order to avoid probate, yet the question of whether an estate will even need to be probated should also be considered. 

Per information shared by the website, in 2015 the average American had $177,000 to leave behind to their heirs. Much of that may be in personal property rather than easily liquidable assets. Thus, affording the costs of probate can often be prohibitive to many beneficiaries. State probate courts also do not want to increase their caseloads unnecessarily with matters that likely need little in terms of resources to be resolved. Thus, most states have made laws addressing the probating of small estates. 

Section 13100 of the California Probate Code states that when the gross value of an estate does not exceed $150,000, any interested party to the estate can bypass the probate process and do any of the following: 

  • Collect money owed to the estate
  • Receive personal property promised to them by the decedent 
  • Transfer ownership of property to another

The intent to do this can only be indicated 40 after the decedent has passed and must be done through an affidavit or declaration provided to the current holder of the decedent's property. This cannot be done, however, if there are any estate administration proceedings pending. 

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Torrance, CA 90505

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