California offers several procedures to settle a decedent’s estate. Alternatives to filing full probate are available if:

  • The gross value of the decedent’s personal property does not exceed $166,250 In this case,  a non-court affidavit procedure will allow the transfer of personal property assets to the beneficiaries and avoid probate.
  • The gross value of decedent’s real property (and personal) property is $55,425 or less. In this case, a simplified court affidavit procedure can be used on behalf of the beneficiaries to avoid “full” probate.
  • The surviving spouse or registered domestic partner of the decedent may file a special spousal property petition to avoid formal probate. This method is faster and less expensive than formal probate. Keep in mind, this process only administers the marital interest in the estate and not an estate interest of another heir or beneficiary of the decedent.
  • Property that is held by the decedent with another person in joint tenancy with right of survivorship can be transferred to the surviving joint tenant by recording an affidavit.