You might need probate if…

  • someone you love has passed away and their real property is sitting there, unable to be sold, unable to be transfered.
  • someone you love has passed away and they have assets in their bank accounts, or stock accounts, and they won’t release the funds.

What You Need to Know First

There are TWO things you need to do first. Now that I say that, let’s make it THREE things. These steps aren’t very hard.

1.) Make a list of the property left behind.

2.) Determine if any of the property on the list transfers straight to anyone else because they are a named beneficiary, or joint owner. These things do not need probate at all.

3.) Look at what is left on the list. These are the things that might need probate.

Next Steps

  • If there is an account or personal property that is worth less than $166,250.00, (if the person passed before April 01, 2022) or $184,500.00 (if the person passed after April 01, 2022), then an affidavit for the collection of personal property can be used. (Probate Code 13100) You can find a sample form HERE for free.
  • If there is personal property worth more than $166,250.00/$184,500 (see dates above), then it has to go through probate court.
  • If there is real property at all…it will require some kind of probate. If the property is worth $55,425 (death before April 02, 2022)or $61,500 (death after April 01, 2022) or less, a simplified process can be done. The filing fee is $45 with the court. The form for this can be found HERE. Please note, you have to have the property appraised by the probate referee first.
  • If there is real property that is worth between $55,425-$166,250.00/$61,500-$184,500, another “simplified” process can be used. This one requires a hearing, and the filing fee is $435. You can find the paperwork for this HERE.
  • If there is real property that is worth more than $166,250.00/$184,500.00…then you must go through a full probate. That is the most complex of the three processes.

Also, please keep in mind, that in some cases, even if the house is worth less than $166,250/$184,500 and it qualifies for a more simplified process, the situation may require the oversight of the court for the protection of the heirs. Also, while there are “simplified” processes, these are not always easy. Take a look at your options yourself, first. You may decide to call an attorney to handle the paperwork for you.

I am happy to help clients in the Kern Valley, Ridgecrest, and Bakersfield areas handle their non-litigation probate matters. My office is located in Lake Isabella, but I work with clients from all over, utilizing technology to get things done as efficiently as possible. Having said that, the Kern County court system is completely backlogged. As of this writing, the court calendar for probate hearings is a solid 6 1/2 months out, sometimes 7 months. That means after we draft and submit everything, the hearing will take place 6-7 months later. The same is true for closing the probate. A realistic timeline to open and close a probate in Kern County is about 18 months to 2 years at this time, if everything goes well. Consider this: We are being asked to wait a total of 12-14 months just to have hearings happen. The probate work can’t start until after the first hearing, and we can’t disburse until after the second.