TN 15 (12-14)

GN 02315.041 California Small Estates

A. Policy for no letters of administration

1. Basic California statute

Pursuant to CAL. PROB. CODE §13100 (2014), if the gross value of the decedent's real and personal property in the state of California, excluding property described in California Probate Code Section 13050, does not exceed one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) and if 40 days have elapsed since his or her death, 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:

  • collect any money due the decedent;

  • receive any item of property that is tangible personal property of the decedent; or

  • have any 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.

    The person(s) executing the affidavit or declaration as successor of the decedent are entitled to have the property described in the affidavit or declaration paid, delivered, or transferred to them.

    If the holder of the decedent’s property refuses to pay, deliver, or transfer any personal property thereof to the successor of the decedent within a reasonable time, the successor may recover the property or compel its payment, delivery, or transfer in an action brought for that purpose against the holder of the property.

2. California affidavit or declaration

To collect money, receive tangible personal property, or have evidences transferred under this statute, an affidavit or a declaration under penalty of perjury will be furnished to the holder of the decedent's property stating all of the following:

  1. The decedent's name;

  2. The date and place of the decedent's death;

  3. “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 affidavit or declaration;”

  4. Either that “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 the affiant or declarant of the property described in the affidavit or declaration;”

  5. The current gross fair market value of the decedent's real and personal property in California, excluding the property described in Section 13050 of the California Probate Code, does not exceed one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000);”

  6. A description of the property of the decedent that is to be paid, transferred, or delivered to the affiant or declarant;

  7. The name of the successor of the decedent to the described property;

  8. Either of the following, as appropriate:

    • “The affiant or declarant is the successor of the decedent (as defined in Section 13006 of the California Probate Code) to the decedent's interest in the described property;” or

    • “The affiant or declarant is 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.”

  9. “No other person has a right to the interest of the decedent in the described property;”

  10. “The affiant or declarant requests that the described property be paid, delivered or transferred to the affiant or declarant;” and

  11. “The affiant or declarant affirms or declares under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.”

    Where more than one person executes the affidavit or declaration, the statements required shall be modified to reflect that fact. (NOTE: A certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate must be attached to the affidavit or declaration. Also, if the decedent’s personal representative has consented to the payment, transfer, or delivery described in the affidavit or declaration, a copy of the consent and of the personal representative’s letters also must be attached to the affidavit or declaration.) CAL. PROB. CODE §13101 (2014).

3. Proof of ownership for California

If the decedent had evidence of ownership of the property described in the affidavit or declaration and the holder of the property would have had the right to require proof of ownership before the duty to pay deliver, or transfer the property would have arisen, the evidence of ownership, if available, shall be presented to the holder of the property along with the affidavit or declaration if such evidence is rightfully required.

If such evidence is not presented, the holder may condition payment, transfer, or delivery of the property on presentation of a bond in sufficient amount to indemnify the holder against all liability that may be incurred. CAL. PROB. CODE § 13102 (2014).

4. Proof of identity for California

Reasonable proof of identity of each person executing the affidavit or declaration shall be provided to the holder of the decedent's property.

  1. Reasonable proof of identity is provided if both of the following requirements are met:

    • the person executing the affidavit or declaration is personally known to the holder; and

    • the person executes the affidavit or declaration in the presence of the holder.

  2. If the affidavit or declaration is executed in the presence of the holder, a sworn statement by the person known to the holder affirming the identity of the person executing the affidavit or declaration is reasonable proof of identity.

  3. If the affidavit or declaration is executed in the presence of the holder, the holder may reasonably rely on any of the following as proof of identity:

    • a current California identification card or driver's license, or one issued during the preceding 5 years;

    • a current U.S. passport or one issued during the preceding 5 years; or

    • any of the following is current or issued during the preceding 5 years contains a photograph and description of the person, signature of the person and a serial or other identifying number: foreign passport stamped by U.S. INS (NOTE: INS no longer exists and its functions have been delegated to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS); in lieu of an INS stamp, SSA should recognize a stamp by either ICE or BCIS), out-of-State driver's license, out-of State identification card, or a United States military identification card.

  4. A notary public's certificate of acknowledgement identifying the person executing the affidavit or declaration is reasonable proof of identity.

  5. Unless the affidavit or declaration contains a notary public's certificate of acknowledgment, the holder shall note on the affidavit or declaration either that the person executing the affidavit or declaration is personally known or a description of the identification provided by the person executing the affidavit or declaration. CAL. PROB. CODE § 13104 (2014)

5. Good acquittance for California

If the requirements listed above are satisfied, receipt by the holder of the affidavit or declaration constitutes sufficient acquittance for the payment of money, delivery of property, or changing of ownership and discharges the holder from any further liability with respect to the money or property. The holder may rely in good faith on the statements in the affidavit or declaration and has no duty to inquire into the truth of any statement in the affidavit or declaration. CAL. PROB. CODE § 13106 (2014)

B. Procedure for California underpayments and lump-sum death payments

To facilitate disposition of underpayments and lump-sum death payments in California, a copy of the form, Affidavit OR Declaration Showing Right to Receive Money under Section 13100 of the California Probate, is shown at GN 02315.200. This form should be reproduced locally as needed. It is designed for in-office use and must be completed in the SSA office by the affiant or declarant. Direct any questions regarding use of the form through channels to the Regional Chief Counsel, Region IX.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0202315041
GN 02315.041 - California Small Estates - 12/19/2014
Batch run: 12/19/2014
Rev:12/19/2014