Is a Small Estate Probate Right for You?

Generally, there are three types of probate petitions.

1. Petition for Probate

A Petition for Probate is filed in an estate when the title of assets in the name of the decedent are $150,000 or more in California. You will determine value of the assets based upon the current market value – date of death valuation. There are exceptions for certain assets. The assets can be real property, bank accounts, etc. Normally, the decedent had a will or no will, i.e. intestacy, but may have had a trust and did not properly transfer the assets. There is another procedure if there was a trust to try if the items left out of the estate was $150,000 or less called a Heggstad Petition. There is normally one or more Petitioner selected to administer the estate and will collect the assets and distribute them to the beneficiaries.

2. Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates of $150,000 or Less)

You would file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates of $150,000 or Less) if the assets, including bank accounts and real property totaled together are less than $150,000. This is a shorter procedure, time wise, but there are some considerations.

        Amount of Beneficiaries

In a proceeding for a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates of $150,000 or Less) all the beneficiaries are Petitioners before the court so if there are 10 beneficiaries of the estate then there will be 10 petitioners. All petitioners will need to sign for the sale of property and all court documents. This could be very challenging and should be considered before choosing this procedure.


In addition, if any of the beneficiaries are incapacitated then the court will need to see that the incapacitated person either has a conservatorship over there person and estate or there is a Durable Power of Attorney. Then the court will deal with the conservator or agent and this will get complicated. If you have either of theses issues this petition may not be the best choice for the estate.

3. Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value ($50,000 or less)

You would file a Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value ($50,000 or less) when there was only real property in the estate that was worth less than $50,000. This is not very common in San Diego County but usually occurs when the decedent owned a share of total interest in the real property. For example, if John, the decedent owned 25 percent of the total real property interest and his percentage was worth less than $50,000 based upon a date of death current market value then this could be an appropriate petition to file.

4. 13100 Affidavit

You might need a 13100 Affidavit if the decedent left a bank account or multiple accounts in their name and the total value of every asset left in the decedent’s name was less than $150,000. If there was real property r multiple accounts, etc. you would add those together to make sure that the total is less than $150,000. You can only collect bank accounts with this Affidavit. If you want to read more about 13100 Affidavits then read my post here.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate planning, and can help with your trust administration, probate administration, wills and trusts. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Photo by Micha

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