To avoid probate in California, the gross value of an estate must be no larger than $184,500. (For deaths before April 1, 2022, the minimum gross value of an estate requiring probate was anything over $166,250.) Understand that this is gross, not net value. For example, if you die today owning a house valued at $500,000, with a loan of $400,000, the equity in the home is $100,000. But for probate purposes, the gross value of $500,000 will trigger the requirement of the probate. Furthermore, executor and legal fees are based on a percentage of the gross value. This means that executor and legal fees are higher even though the amount of equity is modest.
Estates valued below these amounts do not have to go through probate. However, you must file a Small Estate Affidavit and still have to go to court and get a judge’s signature. This affidavit must be signed under oath and must include real estate property. If you’re unsure if your estate will need to go through probate, California Probate and Trust, PC can examine your case and provide legal guidance.