Probate is the legal process through which an estate is settled. You may have heard horror stories about probate—that it can be a lengthy, complicated, and even frustrating process. There is good news for people with smaller estates: California law provides a number of different “probate shortcuts.” The limit of what qualifies as a “small estate” in California recently increased. Here, our California probate lawyer provides an overview of our state’s new probate limit and explains how a trust can help your estate limit its exposure to the probate process.
The New Probate Limits in California
California has a specialized process for small estates. Under Probate Code § 13100, probate assets can be claimed by the rightful beneficiaries through a simplified process. In comparison to the more traditional and comprehensive probate process, the small estate process can save time
California law adjusts the limit of what constitutes a small estate every three years. As of April 2022, the small estate limit is $184,500. However, it should be noted that the maximum amount of real property (real estate) that can be transferred through the small estate process is $61,500.
What are the Steps to Start the Probate Process?
The small estate process is far faster and less complicated than the full probate process. Indeed,
there are a number of additional required steps during the traditional probate process. Among other things, the steps of California probate include:
- Filing a petition to open up the probate process with the proper probate court;
- Notifying all interested parties, including beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors;
- Conducting a comprehensive inventory of the covered assets;
- Obtaining an authoritative appraisal for property;
- Paying valid debts, taxes, and other expenses; and
- When finished, setting the estate by distributing property.
How a Trust Can Help You Limit Exposure to California Probate
A trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to transfer your assets into a separate entity for the benefit of yourself and others. By creating a trust, you can limit your exposure to California probate. When assets are held in a trust, they can bypass probate and be distributed according to
the terms of the trust. In other words, they are not counted as part of the estate for the purposes of probate. Notably, this would reduce the value of the estate. If the remaining value of assets held by the estate is less than $184,500—excluding real property limited at $61,500—then the California small estate affidavit process could be used instead of traditional probate.
Set Up a Confidential Consultation With a Top California Probate Lawyer
At The Law Office of Kris Mukherji, our probate lawyer has the professional knowledge and legal expertise that you can trust. Have questions about new probate limits in California? We can help. Contact us now for your strictly confidential initial consultation. Our law firm provides probate law and estate planning services in La Jolla, San Diego, and throughout the wider