California Raises the Value of a "Small Estate"

In 2019, the California legislature made several significant changes to California's "small estate" probate procedures. These changes affect the probate process for estates of people who die after January 1, 2020. Readers of How to Probate an Estate in California should keep these changes in mind as they read and use the book. In particular, the dollar figures in Chapter 11 "Transferring Small Estates Under $150,000" refer to the prior law.

Small Estate Affidavit→$166,250

As of January 1, 2020, to use the affidavit for small estates under Probate Code §13100, the value of an estate must be no larger than $166,250, increased from $150,000.

Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value→$55,425

The maximum value for using an affidavit to transfer real property under Probate Code § 13200 also increased – from $50,000 to $55,425.

Declaration for Collection of Compensation Owed to Deceased Spouse or Domestic Partner→$16,625

Under Probate Code § 13600, a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner may collect up to $16,625 in compensation owed to the decedent by an employer. The previous limit was $15,000.

Dollar Amounts Will Continue to Increase Over Time

The revised law also established that every three years the dollar amounts discussed above will rise to adjust for inflation.

Updated Forms→DE-305, DE-310, DE-315, and DE-120

As a result of these changes, the Judicial Council has revised the following forms:

DE-305 Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value ($55,425 or less)

DE-310 Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates of $166,250 or Less)

DE-315 Order Determining Succession to Real Property And Personal Property (Estates of $166,250 or Less)

Separate from the small estates issue, there is also new version of this form:

DE-120 Notice of Hearing—Decedent's Estate or Trust

You can download all Judicial Council forms on the website of the California Courts: https://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm.

AB 473, Effective Date: January 1, 2020