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Affidavit for Collection for Small Estate Under $150,000.00

Get Personal Property Counsel from
Probate Attorney Robert L. Ferris

Do you think you may be entitled to collect estate assets from a decedent? Though the answer may seem obvious, there are some intricacies that need to be taken into consideration. Speaking to personal property probate attorney Robert L. Ferris can provide some clarity.

An experienced personal property probate lawyer should inform you that an estate valued at less than $150,000.00 does not need to be probated. Instead, an affidavit with an attached certified death certificate is used to collect the decedent’s property. For example, suppose the decedent dies with one or more bank accounts totaling less than $150,000.00 and the accounts have no pay on death beneficiary. The person(s) entitled to that money either under the decedent’s will or under the laws of intestacy can complete and sign an affidavit stating that no probate has been filed in any court, that the value of the decedent’s estate is under a $150,000.00, and that no other person or persons have a superior right to the funds. Pursuant to the California Probate Code, the bank is required to give the money to the person or person’s presenting the affidavit.

Likewise, the following estate assets usually do not need to be probated: property passing to a surviving spouse; property held in a living trust; joint tenancy property; accounts with pay on death beneficiaries (POD) such as bank accounts/Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA)/Life Insurance/Pension Funds and Brokerage Accounts; and vehicles owned by the decedent. Joint account holders have immediate access to money in the decedent’s bank account. Pay on death beneficiaries usually have to wait 40 days and then go to the bank with a certified death certificate. To remove the decedent’s name from joint tenancy property, an affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant should be prepared by a personal property probate attorney and recorded at the county recorder’s office. Under the California Probate Code, property held in a living trust requires that the Successor Trustee give notice to all of the trust beneficiaries and heirs prior to distributing the trust property. Because it is very common for a decedent to own a car at the time of death, the DMV has developed its own form to transfer title. The new owner should bring the following to the DMV: the pink slip, registration or other means to identify the vehicle, a certified copy of the death certificate, and a personal driver’s license. In most instances, this will be all that is needed to transfer title.

If you, or your family, think speaking with a personal property probate lawyer is necessary, please call our office first for a free consultation: (650) 488-0431.