California's small estate provisions will change as follows for the estates of decedents who pass on or after January 1, 2020:
- The size of a decedent's estate that may be set aside for a surviving spouse and minor children for his/her/their needs increases from $20,000 to $85,900.
- The amount of a decedent's personal property that can be transferred using a Small Estate Affidavit increases from $150,000 to $166,250.
- The cap on the value of a decedent's real property that can be transferred under a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property increases from $150,000 to $166,250.
- The cap on the value of a decedent's real property that can be transferred under an Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value to increases from $50,000 to $55,425.
- The cap on unpaid compensation that can be transferred to a surviving spouse increases from $15,000 to $16,625.
All amounts will be readjusted April 1, 2022, and every three years thereafter. The values will be rounded to the nearest $25. Amounts will be indexed using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.
Also, existing law imposes various types of liability on a person who receives personal or real property from an estate pursuant to the small estate or spousal claim procedures, but is later required to return that property because another person has a higher claim. Starting January 1, 2019, restitution must be paid with interest at the rate of 7% per annum on the fair market value of the property. However, a court, in its discretion, may excuse the interest payment, in whole or in part, if the claimant acted reasonably and in good faith under the circumstances as known to the person and it would be equitable to do so.