Q: Who can be named successor on affidavit of small estate in California? Does each family member need to be listed?
Decedent has four surviving family members -- two parents and two siblings. No spouse. Do all four need to be listed or can just one be listed?
A: If the deceased was survived by one or more parents, only those individuals are intestate heirs entitled to recover under the small estate affidavit. The siblings are not entitled to receive anything.
A: If there is a Will, then that document will control who has the authority to handle the deceased person's finances. Just because someone is related to the deceased person does not automatically give them legal authority to access or spend the deceased person's money. Banks are very cautious about allowing one person to access another person's money -- relative or not. As to the Small Estate Affidavit, there is specific language that is required to be in that document for it to be enforceable. If you are not familiar with drafting that document, it's quite possible a bank would reject it as not being compliant. Some banks insist that you use their own forms. So check with the deceased person's bank first to determine if your form will be acceptable. Best wishes!
Under California law, a small estate affidavit can be filed if the value of the estate does not exceed $166,250. The successor named on the affidavit of small estate will be the person authorized to collect and distribute the decedent's assets.
In California, the surviving spouse or domestic partner has the first right to be the successor, followed by the children of the decedent, then the parents of the decedent, and then the siblings of the decedent. If there is more than one person in a category, such as multiple children, they can be listed together as co-successors.
So in this case, since there is no surviving spouse and the decedent has both parents and siblings, any of the four can be named as the successor on the affidavit of small estate. They can also choose to list all four as co-successors. However, it is important to note that all co-successors must act jointly in administering the estate, so it may be easier to choose one person to act as the sole successor.
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