If it appears from the inventory and appraisal that the value of the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed homestead allowance, family allowance, exempt property, administration costs and expenses, reasonable funeral expense, and reasonable, necessary medical and hospital expenses of the decedent's last illness, the personal representative, without giving notice to creditors, may immediately disburse and distribute the estate to the persons entitled to the estate and may file a closing statement as provided in section 3988.
- To qualify for this summary proceeding you must determine if the particular amount is available. This may depend on who survived the deceased. The stated dollar amounts are only available for decedents who died after March 31, 2000. The gross value of the estate can not exceed the following when applicable:
- Homestead Allowance (Section 2402) - $15,000 adjusted for inflation beginning January 1, 2001. This is available for a surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, it is available for both minor and dependent children.
- Exempt Property (Section 2404) - $10,000 adjusted for inflation beginning January 1, 2001. This is available for the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, it is available for all children
- Family Allowance (Section 2403) - varies in amount. The amount is determined by the court after an examination of all the circumstances. A personal representative may determine the family allowance without a court order in a lump sum not exceeding $18,000. The $18,000 will be adjusted for inflation beginning January 1, 2001. This is available to a surviving spouse and minor children whom the decedent was obligated to support, and children of the decedent or another who were in fact being supported by the decedent.
- Administration costs and expenses - varies in amount.
- Reasonable funeral expense - varies in amount.
- Reasonable, necessary medical and hospital expenses of the
decedent's last illness - varies in amount. To proceed
under this section, the following items need to be submitted
to the probate court:
- Application for Informal Probate and/or Appointment of Personal Representative (Testate/Intestate) (PC 557) or
- Petition for Probate and/or Appointment of Personal Representative (Testate/Intestate) (PC 558).
While the personal representative can be appointed in either an informal proceeding (Application) or formal proceeding (Petition), it would seem that the the use of the Application in an informal proceeding would be the most efficient way to proceed. A filing fee of $150 must accompany this filing.
- Testimony Interested Persons (PC 565).
- Inventory (PC 577). This form may be filed with the court. If it is not submitted, the personal representative must submit to the court information sufficient to compute the inventory fee. An inventory fee must be paid before the closing statement is filed.
- Register's Statement (PC 568)(if informal) or Order of Formal Proceedings (PC 569)(if formal)
- Acceptance of Appointment (PC 571) and any required Bond of Fiduciary (PC 570).
- Letters of Authority for Personal Representative (PC 572).
- Closing Statement, Summary Proceeding Small Estates (PC 590). This will be filed once the personal representative has fully administered the estate and distributed the remaining property to the persons entitled to it. The personal representative must have complied with the statements being made in the closing statement.
This procedure should always be considered when there is a surviving spouse or minor children. It is also possible to use in other instances. Under this procedure everything can be accomplished within a couple of days and there is no need to notify creditors.