Did you know that the size of an estate can have a significant impact on administration options? Who survives a decedent can also have a significant bearing on administration options. These are good to know about as probate proceedings can be frustrating. They can also be very expensive as well as time-consuming. Knowing your options for small estate administration in California can save you a lot of time, money, and energy.
Small Estate Administration in California
First, let’s take a look at administration options for surviving spouses, registered domestic partners, children, or other dependents of a decedent. The executor of the estate may file a set aside petition on behalf of such a surviving loved one of the decedents. The set aside procedure is available when the decedent’s estate, not including any liens or encumbrances at the time of death, does not exceed a certain amount. The specific allowable amount is adjusted periodically. With a set-aside petition, a simplified probate procedure will follow and full probate is avoided.
There are two other options for small estate administration in California. There is collection of personal property in small estates by affidavit or declaration and there is a summary court proceeding that may be available depending on the value of the estate. For personal property, a commonly utilized, non-probate transfer method is through the use of affidavits. This process may be available if the gross value of the decedent’s real and personal property in the State of California falls below a certain amount and 40 days have passed since the decedent’s death. The property transfer may occur without needing letters of administration or waiting on the probate process.
While there may be several small estate administration options available to one of your heirs after you pass away, one of the best things you may be able to do to assist your loved ones at what can be a difficult time following your death is to make an estate plan that allows for the passing of your assets outside of probate. For instance, you can hold title to property as tenants with rights of survivorship. That way, your interest in the property will automatically pass to the co-owner of the property. You can also designate certain financial accounts, such as bank accounts, as payable on death accounts or transfer on death accounts. This way, your rights to the financial holdings in the account will automatically transfer to the person designated with such subsequent rights on the account. You should also be sure to list proper beneficiary designations on things like your life insurance policies and retirement accounts as this will allow for the passing of the proceeds upon your death without the need for probate. People also commonly use trusts to avoid probate. Trusts are versatile and can also serve a range of other purposes outside of probate avoidance.