Transferring Real Property worth less than $20,000 WIthout Probate in California
When can real property less than $20,000 be transferred from a decedent in California?Before commencing the process, a Notice of Change of Ownership should be filed with the assessor.
The non-probate transfer of real property less than $20,000 should not be completed until six months from date of death; and after payment of funeral expenses; expenses of last illness; and all of decedent's unsecured debts.
(Probate Code A?13200(a)(8)).
Complete Appraisal process with Probate Referee.The property must be appraised by a Probate Referee.
Select a probate referee by obtaining a list of probate referees from the probate clerk for the Court where the property is located, and choosing any referee from list.
Contact the referee and send Form DE-160 to the referee.
The cost of the appraisal will be at least $75, up to 0.1 percent of appraised value.
The appraisal may take several weeks. Be patient, provide all information requested by the probate referee, and pay the probate referee promptly -- they provide an important public service at a very reasonable cost.
Complete Form DE-305 "Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value"The beneficiary of the property, not the executor or trustee in their role as executor or trustee, completes the form. If the trust is the beneficiary of the will, the Trustee would sign the form. If there is no will, then the legal heir(s) would complete the form.
Attach the DE-160 Appraisal to the DE-305 Affidavit. Probate Code A?13200(c).
File the DE-305 affidavit with the probate court clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the decedent had his primary residence at the time of death, or if decedent was not domiciled in California at the time of death, in any county where decedent owned property. (Probate Code A?7052).
You will need the full legal description including the assessor's parcel number (APN), of the real property and decedent's interest.
The affidavit must be acknowledged before a notary public.
You will need to file the Affidavit with attached appraisal and the will with the probate court clerk. Then, you will need to obtained a certified copy.
Recording the DE-305Prepare a Preliminary Change of Ownership Statement for the County Assessor. (Each county has a slightly different form on its website, and some counties now require additional property tax related declarations).
Submit the certified copy and the Preliminary Change of Ownership Statement to the county recorder. This is not a common document, so be patient if the recording clerk has to call in a supervisor to review the document. Recording fees vary from county to county.
DIsclaimers and General AdviceThese steps are somewhat complicated. If you are a trustee, and the trust is the beneficiary of the will, you have the right to hire an attorney to help you complete and file the paperwork and the trust will reimburse you for doing so. On the other hand, this is a simplified process designed to be able to be completed more simply than probate.
Legal disclaimer: The answers provided are for general information purposes, and are not legal advice. The law changes, and the information provided may not apply to your situation. By providing this general information, we do not enter into an attorney-client relationship with any reader.