If someone died without a Will and left a small estate,can I file something to avoid probate?

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If someone died without a Will and left a small estate,can I file something to avoid probate?

My mom died in 3 months ago while visiting us and I’ve never settled a death before. She rented an apartment, no longer had a car, and we moved most of her stuff to storage. She was unemployed (retired) but her social security did not pay all her expenses so she was drawing from savings (about $30,000 according to her bank, plus some IRAs the bank will settle next week). As far as we know there is no Will. It’s been over 40 days. My sister and I are dividing things equally. I am not sure if I need to file any forms since there was no property. What’s legal for CA?

Asked on March 13, 2011 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are several mechanisms through which a small estate can avoid probate. Specifically as to your case, the CA Probate Code provides that if the value of an estate does not exceed $100,000 and 40 days have elapsed since the death of the decedent, an interested party may demand payment on any debts owed to the decedent through a small estate affidavit.  This affidavit is filled out and then presented to various institutions (banks, brokerages, etc.) that hold assets.  The assets are then turned over accordingly.  In the case of intestacy (when a person dies without a Will), they would be distributed according to the rules of intestate succession (in your case, to you and your sister).

For more information go to: http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/probate/pdf/transferform.pdf (i'ts for LA County but Orange County is much the same). 

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are several mechanisms through which a small estate can avoid probate. Specifically as to your case, the CA Probate Code provides that if the value of an estate does not exceed $100,000 and 40 days have elapsed since the death of the decedent, an interested party may demand payment on any debts owed to the decedent through a small estate affidavit.  This affidavit is filled out and then presented to various institutions (banks, brokerages, etc.) that hold assets.  The assets are then turned over accordingly.  In the case of intestacy (when a person dies without a Will), they would be distributed according to the rules of intestate succession (in your case, to you and your sister).

For more information go to: http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/probate/pdf/transferform.pdf (i'ts for LA County but Orange County is much the same). 


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