Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property – A Probate Shortcut

Probate

Background

If you own real property in your individual name, then the chances are extremely high that upon your death the real property will have to go through probate. Under California probate law, real property over the value of $166,250 (the probate threshold) immediately triggers probate. However, there are probate shortcuts (summary probate proceedings), where you can avoid a full probate if you fall into a particular fact pattern. For example, a surviving spouse can take advantage of the spousal property petition. In addition, there is a way to avoid probate if the value of the real property is under $166,250 as of the decedent’s date of death. This article will discuss transferring real property under the value of $166,250, by filing what is called a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property.

Problem

A person passes away holding title in their individual name (asset is not in joint tenancy or in a trust). Uh oh, probate, a year-long and expensive process will be required, right? Not so fast. 

Avoiding Probate

The probate code provides a specific exception to full year long probates for real property that is valued under $166,250. You’re probably thinking to yourself: “when would this apply considering California property prices are obscenely high”? Well, this procedure can be used if a person passed away a long time ago, and the value of the real property back then was really low and under the probate threshold. Or, maybe the subject property is a vacant lot, in which case the property value would be low. Or finally, maybe the decedent owned only a fraction of the property, and that fractional interest is worth less than $166,250. In all of these situations, you may be able to take advantage of the petition to determine succession to real property. 

Building a Winning Case for a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property.

The strength of a petition to determine succession to real property boils down to one thing really: the value of the subject property as of the person’s date of death. There is only way to find out, and the process begins by contacting a probate referee in the county where the real property is located. You can find a list of probate referees by searching online for the probate referee directory (usually there is one to three probate referees per county). After you have located the probate referee, you will have to provide the probate referee with a legal description of the property, and the date of death of the decedent—this information is provided on a judicial council form called the Inventory & Appraisal. The probate referee will charge a fee for his or her services, and get back with an appraisal within a month or so. Based on the valuation provided by the probate referee, you can then determine if you qualify for a petition to determine succession to real property, or whether you will have to do a full probate, because the value of the real property is over $166,250. 

Filing a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property and Obtaining a Court Judgment.

Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property can be a useful tool in so far as it helps you avoid a full probate in California, and is much quicker and cheaper than a full probate case. However, typically, probate courts in California are backed up, and with Covid, the length times have increased from what was 2-3 months in the past to 4-5 months currently. However, our firm has developed a way of going to court on an emergency basis to get a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property approved in a matter of weeks! Moreover, it does not matter what California county your loved one died in or what California county they owned property in—we can file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property using a local California court that accepts a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property for properties located all over California. We can file the Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property to transfer the property (or properties) in Sacramento County, San Diego County, San Francisco County, Los Angeles, San Mateo County, and other California counties. 

The emergency Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property is not always possible and it depends on the set of facts and the interested parties involved, so contact us today to see if we can get your Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property approved quickly. If any of the beneficiaries has hired a trust litigation attorney and litigation is involved, then the emergency Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property will likely not be possible. Whether or not an emergency procedure can be used to expedite the probate process depends on obtaining consents from all the beneficiaries and heirs involved. 

From Start to Finish.

When you hire Klosek Law to file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property and transfer an asset that otherwise would have to go through a full probate, we will take care of getting the asset transferred from the decedent’s name to the beneficiaries or heirs. What that means is that we will be filing a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property, obtaining a court order, certifying the court order, and then properly recording it in the appropriate county (i.e. San Francisco, San Mateo, or whatever county the property is located in), so that title to the property is properly updated on the property title report. All these steps are needed so that the beneficiaries or heirs have the authority to sell (or refinance) the real property. Contact us today for help with a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property!