If you have the legal right to inherit personal property, like money in a bank account or stocks, and the estate is worth $166,250 or less, you may NOT have to go to court. There is a simplified process you can use to transfer the property to your name. The value of the property is based on what it was worth on the date of death —not on what the property is worth now.
- Keep in mind, this process CANNOT be used for real property, like a house or land. Talk to a lawyer for help to determine whether you may be able to use another simplified procedure to transfer real property.
To use the simplified process for transferring personal property:
First, figure out if the value of all the decedent’s property (the estate) is $166,250 or less. To do this:
- All real and personal property.
- All life insurance or retirement benefits that will be paid to the estate (but not any insurance or retirement benefits designated to be paid to some other person).
Do not include:
- Cars, boats or mobile homes.
- Real property outside of California.
- Property held in trust, including a living trust.
- Real or personal property that the person who died owned with someone else (joint tenancy).
- Property (community, quasi-community, or separate) that passed directly to the surviving spouse or domestic partner.
- Life insurance, death benefits or other assets not subject to probate that pass directly to the beneficiaries.
- Unpaid salary or other compensation up to $16,625 owed to the person who died.
- The debts or mortgages of the person who died. (You are not allowed to subtract the debts of the person who died.)
- Bank accounts that are owned by multiple persons, including the person who died.
If the total value of these assets is $166,250 or less and 40 days have passed since the death, you can transfer personal property by writing an affidavit.
To use to Affidavit process:
1. Fill out the Affidavit.
Many banks and other institutions have their own affidavit. So, check with them first and ask for one. Your court’s self-help center may also have this form or click for a sample.
- You can list all assets in one affidavit. Or you can do one affidavit for each asset.
2. Attach (to the affidavit):
- A certified copy of the death certificate of the person who died.
- Proof that the person who died owned the property (like a bank passbook, storage receipt, stock certificate).
- Proof of your identity (like a driver’s license or passport)
- An Inventory and Appraisal of all real property owned by the decedent in California. You will need to get this form signed by a probate referee. If there is no real property, then you do not need this form.
3. Have the affidavit notarized.
Legally, you are not required to have the affidavit notarized BUT many institutions will ask you to, so it is a good idea to notarize it before you try to use it to transfer the property.
4. If there are other people entitled to inherit the property, they MUST also sign the affidavit.
This shows you all agree that the property listed on your affidavit can be transferred to you.
5. To have the property transferred to you, give the affidavit to the person, company, or bank that has the property now.
NOTE: Make sure the case is not already in probate court. If it is, you cannot use the affidavit process unless the personal representative of the estate agrees in writing to let you do so.
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