Probate in California can be avoided with the use of the small estates law. California does not require estates of $150,000 or less to be probated. The assets can be collected forty days after death with a declaration or affidavit signed under penalty of perjury. The small estates law does not require documents to be filed with the Superior Court.
The $150,000 limit includes the assets of brokerage accounts, bank accounts, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, and property with a value up to $50,000. The value of the assets is determined on the date of death, even if a declaration or affidavit is signed years later.
The POD Designation
A POD designation is established with a request to the financial institution. The form is completed, and the individuals receiving the balances of the accounts upon the persons death are identified. All information including name, driver’s license number, and address must be on the form. The intended beneficiaries should be informed so they are aware of the situation.
Upon the persons death, the POD beneficiaries must obtain an official certified death certificate. This is given to the financial institution with identification. The funds are released after forty days to ensure there are no outstanding debts.
Since the POD beneficiaries are not on the account, they are unable to access the account during the life of the account holder. For any questions regarding small California estates, a consultation with our Palm Springs estate planning attorney is highly recommended.