At Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation, we often have people call us after reading our blog or website articles and ask such questions as “My father died but he didn’t have much, just a home. Do I have to file for probate?” or “My grandmother left me her condo in her will but it isn’t worth much? Do I still have to file for probate?”
The simple answer to these questions is probably “yes” in California. In other states where property values are lower, it may not be necessary but in California, if you are left real property and other assets valued at more than $100,000 and that property was not titled in the name of the deceased’s living trust, or in joint tenancy with you, you will have to open a probate.
There is a summary procedure in California to transfer property after death if the total value of the probate estate is less than $100,000. A Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property can be filed pursuant to Probate Code section 13100 if the estate is less than $100,000 and more than 40 days have elapsed since the death. It is a rare case however where real property in San Diego County is worth less than $100,000. You could have a situation though where the real property was in a trust or in joint tenancy, and the remaining value of the estate not in trust or joint tenancy was less than $100,000 in which case those assets could be transferrred to an individual pursuant to this type of petition.
One of the ways to avoid probate or a small estate affidavit is to create a revocable living trust and put your home into the trust, which means titling the real property in the name of your trust by filing a deed with the county recorder. If your home is in your trust, your heirs won’t have to worry about opening a probate to receive the property you leave them.
For probate issues and estate planning, call us to schedule a complimentary appointment.