California Small Estate Affidavit
Estate planning is an important part of financial planning, but it can be complex. Many times, assets fail to be protected from probate proceedings. However, assets may nonetheless be transferred to the decedent’s successor in interest without having to go through probate by utilizing a Small Estate Affidavit. However, there are a number of pitfalls to be avoided when using a Small Estate Affidavit, as these may delay or prevent the transfer of assets to beneficiaries.
To use the California Small Estate Affidavit, the following requirements must be met:
- The deceased’s estate must be valued at $184,500 or less (if the decedent died after April 1, 2022).
- The estate must not have any real property.
- At least 40 days must have passed since the deceased’s death.
- No probate proceedings are pending for the deceased’s estate.
- The affiant or declarant is the successor-in-interest of the decedent.
- No other person has a superior right to the interest of the decedent in the described property.
The Affidavit must be completed accurately and completely. It is important to provide all the required information, including:
- The deceased’s full name and date of death.
- The names and addresses of all beneficiaries.
- A detailed list of all estate assets including their values as of the date of death.
In addition to the Affidavit, beneficiaries must also provide the following documentation:
- A death certificate for the deceased.
- A copy of the deceased’s Will (if there is one)
The California Small Estate Affidavit must be submitted to the holder of the asset the person is trying to collect. For example, if the asset is a financial account, the California Small Estate Affidavit will be submitted to the bank or other financial institution. For vehicles and vessels, the DMV has a California Small Estate Affidavit form on its website that can be used to transfer title.
Common Mistakes. Some common mistakes people make when using a California Small Estate Affidavit include:
Not meeting the eligibility requirements. It is important to ensure all the eligibility requirements are met before filing a Small Estate Affidavit. If you are not sure whether the requirements are met, consult an estate attorney.
Not completing the affidavit correctly. The affidavit must be accurate and complete. Any errors or omissions can delay or prevent the transfer of assets to beneficiaries.
Not providing all the required documentation. Be sure to gather and submit the required documentation, including a death certificate, and a copy of the deceased’s Will if there is one.
How a Tax Attorney Can Help. Obtaining the advice of a tax attorney can help avoid mistakes when filing a California Small Estate Affidavit by:
- Reviewing the estate to determine the eligibility to use the Small Estate Affidavit.
- Assisting in the preparation of the affidavit to ensure it is correct and complete.
- Reviewing all of the required documentation.
- Filing the affidavit with the correct court.
Again, it is strongly advised to consult with an experienced estate attorney when considering the use of a California Small Estate Affidavit.
The California Small Estate Affidavit can be a valuable tool for beneficiaries of small estates. However, it is important to ensure the document is accurate and complete to avoid delay or prevent the transfer of assets.
Some additional tips for avoiding mistakes include:
- Be sure to understand all of the requirements for using the Small Estate Affidavit.
- Gather all of the required documentation before starting the process.
- Have someone else review your affidavit before filing.
- Consult with an estate attorney with any questions.
By following these tips, mistakes can be avoided and ensure that the transfer of assets from the deceased person’s estate to beneficiaries is completed smoothly and efficiently.
The experienced estate attorneys at RJS LAW stand ready to assist. For a free consultation, please contact RJS LAW or call 619-595-1655 to discuss your needs.
Written by Brian M Malloy, Esq.