Every three years, California raises the maximum values associated with various "small estate" probate procedures. In 2022, these values changed, and they will do so again in 2025. If you own the Nolo books Probate an Estate in California, The Executor's Guide, or Every Californian's Guide to Estate Planning, you may run into some of the following figures that need to be updated. The updated amounts are effective for deaths on or after April 1, 2022.
California offers several probate shortcuts for small estates. Compared to full-blown probate, these simplified probate procedures save time and money. To use the affidavit for small estates under Probate Code §13100, the value of an estate must be no larger than $184,500. (For deaths prior to April 1, 2022, the maximum value of an estate that could use the small estate affidavit was $166,250.)
The maximum value of real estate that can be transferred using an affidavit (under Probate Code § 13200) also increased—from $55,425 to $61,500.
Amount excluded from value of estate. Under Probate Code § 13050, a certain amount of compensation owed to the deceased person (such as unpaid salary or unused vacation) can be excluded from the value of the estate when calculating whether it qualifies for a small estate affidavit procedure. The maximum amount that can be excluded has changed from $16,625 to $18,450.
Amount collectible by spouse using affidavit. Under Probate Code § 13600, a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner may also collect a certain amount in compensation owed to the decedent by using a simple Affidavit of Compensation Owed to Deceased Spouse or Domestic Partner. Again, the previous limit was $16,625, but is now $18,450 for deaths on or after April 1, 2022.
If the size of the net estate (minus debts), excluding the value of a home, doesn't exceed $95,325, the court can be petitioned to "set aside" the entire estate for the surviving spouse or domestic partner and minor children. This procedure is much simpler than full-blown probate. Previously, this limit was $85,900.