How to Use the Small Estate Affidavit

As mentioned in the previous post, a Small Estate Affidavit can be used to transfer inherited personal property from a decedent’s estate without a court order if the estate is worth $150,000 or less. Many courts have Small Estate Affidavit forms available on their website that can easily be downloaded and printed out for use.

This is a sample from the San Francisco Superior Court:

I, ____________________________________________________________, state as follows:
1. _________________________________________________ (name of decedent), died on _______________ (date of death) in ___________________________________(place of death).
2. At least 40 days have elapsed since the death of the decedent, as shown in a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate, attached to this declaration.
3. No proceeding is now being or has been conducted in California for administration of the decedent’s estate. OR The decedent’s Personal Representative has consented in writing to the payment, transfer, or delivery to me of the property described in this declaration.
4. The current gross fair market value of the decedent’s real and personal property in California, excluding the property described in Probate Code Section 13050, does not exceed $150,000.
5. The following property is to be paid, transferred or delivered to me according to Probate Code Section 13100: [describe the property to be transferred] ________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
6. The successor(s) of the decedent, as defined in California Probate Code Section 13006, is/are: ________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________
7. I am: the successor(s) of the decedent (as defined in Section 13006 of the California Probate Code) with respect to the decedent’s interest in the described property. OR authorized under Section 13051 of the California Probate Code to act on behalf of the successor of the decedent (as defined in Section 13006 of the California Probate Code) with respect to the decedent’s interest in the described property.
8. No other person has a superior right to the interest of the decedent in the described property.
9. I request that the above-described property be paid, delivered or transferred to me. I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Date _________ Sign Name ____________________________ Print Name _____________________
Date _________ Sign Name ____________________________ Print Name _____________________

However, before using a court’s sample form, it is advisable to check first with the institution holding the decedent’s property. Many banks, brokerages, and other financial institutions have their own in-house affidavit forms and may require you to use them to access the decedent’s assets. It’s worth checking with such institutions before spending the time and money to get an affidavit notarized.
Once an affidavit is completed, attach a certified copy of the death certificate of the decedent and proof that the person who died owned the property (such as a bank passbook, storage receipt, stock certificate, etc.) Lastly, the affidavit must be notarized by a California approved notary.