Free Consultation
100% Success Record. Call 909-890-2350 or 951-218-4083 for consultation

If a person dies and leaves behind assets worth $20,000 or less, the person’s surviving spouse or minor children can petition the court to “set aside” the estate. This is a simpler alternative to the full probate process. In order for the court to set aside the estate, the petitioner must file a “Petition for Order to Set Aside Estate Not Exceeding $20,000” form with the probate court. Property held in joint tenancy does not need to be included in the form, but the decedent’s share in any community property must be included. 

If the court rules to “set aside” the estate, the spouse or children will be responsible to pay the decedent’s unsecured debts up to the value of the estate, less any liens and homestead or other exempt property.

If the estate is awarded, the beneficiaries are responsible for the decedent’s debts for one year unless the creditor files a court action during that year. There may be tax ramifications, therefore, it is advisable to consult a lawyer.

To get more information, please read the California Probate Code Section 6600.


California offers several probate shortcuts for small estates. Compared to full-blown probate, these simplified probate procedures save time and money. To use the affidavit for small estates under Probate Code 13100, the value of an estate must be no larger than $184,500. (For deaths prior to April 1, 2022, the maximum value of an estate that could use the small estate affidavit was $166,250.)

By following the procedures described in Probate Code Section 13100 and using a declaration, one can collect the decedent’s personal property and distribute it to the decedent’s heirs or the will’s beneficiaries.  

However, certain rules apply to this procedure:

  • It cannot be used to distribute real property such as land or buildings.
  • It can be used for property that would automatically pass to a spouse.
  • The decedent’s assets can be collected and distributed after 40 days from the decedent’s death.
  • A written declaration must be given to the person or agency that has the property or is in charge of the transfer of the property.

To get more information on this procedure, please read Probate Code Section 13100.

For more information on Wills, Probate, Trusts and Estate Litigation, contact Law Office of Antoniette Jauregui at 909-890-2350 or fill out a Request for a Free Initial Consultation.

Probate Of Small Estate, $20,000 Or Less In Assets