The Threshold for Probate in California, the Magical Number

The minimum amount or threshold for probate in 2020 in California is $166,250.  That is the magical number below which there is no probate in California, which number will continue to change each year.


For deaths in 2020 the Small Estate Numbers are as follow: In California, if the non-beneficiary assets of the person are at least $166,250 in 2020, the will must be probated.    If Decedent died in 2019, the threshold number is still $150,000.   Check for the date of death before you complete the Affidavit of Small Estate.

If all assets fall below the threshold, then the assets may be collected by an Affidavit of Small Estate in California.    The threshold number is comprehensive, it includes real property and personal property, which does not have a beneficiary, and was not in a trust.

See below for 2020 Small Estate threshold numbers in California.

Small Estate California Probate Threshold Amount is $166,250 as of 2020


Excluding the property described in Section 13050, if the gross value of the decedent’s real and personal property in this state does not exceed one hundred sixty-six thousand two hundred fifty dollars ($166,250), as adjusted periodically in accordance with Section 890, and if 40 days have elapsed since the death of the decedent, the successor of the decedent may, without procuring letters of administration or awaiting probate of the will, do any of the following with respect to one or more particular items of property:(a) Collect any particular item of property that is money due the decedent. (b) Receive any particular item of property that is tangible personal property of the decedent. (c) Have any particular item of property that is evidence of a debt, obligation, interest, right, security, or chose in action belonging to the decedent transferred, whether or not secured by a lien on real property.

Los Angeles California Small Estate Affidavit

  1.  Assets in Decedent’s individual name.

Which assets do not count towards the California probate threshold of $166,250 as of 2020?

  1. Joint tenancy accounts.
  2. Accounts that have beneficiaries.
  3. Trust assets named in the trust.
  4. Insurance policies or annuities with beneficiary designations.
  5. Pay on death accounts.

By the same token, if a will exists and the assets include joint tenancy, trust or beneficiary accounts, the will does not govern those types of assets.   If you really want to know how the assets are distributed, you must keep a log of how title to decedent’s assets are taken, as well as the types of assets which pass outside of probate and outside of the will by contract, or by beneficiary designation.

Mina N. Sirkin is a Probate Lawyer in Los Angeles County California who has been practicing in this area since 1992.   Call Probate Lawyer, Mina Sirkin at 818.340.4479 or email: