Petition & Order for Assignment
Section 3982 of the Estates and Protected Individuals Code provides a simplified procedure for distributing small estates if the balance of the gross estate after the payment of the decedent's funeral and burial expense consists of property of $24,000 or less. The $24,000 is figured by adding all assets of the decedent less any liens against any asset. Ordinary debts of the decedent are not subtracted in making the calculation. Therefore the $24,000 is a gross estate value. For example, an estate with a single asset consisting of real estate worth $30,000 with a mortgage of $16,000 would qualify while an estate with $26,500 of assets and bills of $2,000 owed by the decedent would not.
Upon a showing of evidence, satisfactory to the court, that the decedent's funeral or burial expenses are unpaid or were paid by a person other than the estate, the court shall order that the property be first used to pay the unpaid funeral and burial expenses, or to reimburse the person that paid those expenses, and may order that the balance be turned over to the surviving spouse or, if there is not a spouse, to the decedent's heirs.
Other than a surviving spouse who qualifies for allowances under this act or minor children of the decedent, an heir who receives property through an order under this section is responsible, for 63 days from the date of the order, for any unsatisfied debt of the decedent up to the value of the property received through the order.
*The total value of assets on the original or any amended petitions, after payment of funeral and burial expenses, is adjusted for cost of living. The current maximum value is determined by the Department of Treasury. Those values from 2001 to the present may be viewed at the Department of Treasury's website. The maximum values for years prior to 2001 are as follows:
- October 1, 1994 - December 31, 2000: $15,000
- December 13, 1984 - September 30, 1994: $5,000
- July 1, 1979 - December 12, 1984: $2,500
- October 1, 1972 - June 30, 1979: $1,500
- August 28, 1964 - September 30, 1972: $1,000
- September 3, 1949 - August 27, 1964: $500
- September 10, 1942 - September 2, 1949: $200
- Filing Fee: $25 (Non-refundable)
- Certified Copy Fee: $12
- Inventory Fee: Determined based on the total assets
Petition and Order for Assignment (PC556m) (PDF) - Copy of paid funeral bill (If funeral bill is not paid, a copy of the bill showing the amount due.)
- Certified copy of the death certificate
- Proof of value of assets
Who May File
Only an heir or the individual who paid the funeral bill may file this petition.
It is recommended that the documents be brought to the Probate Court office by the petitioner for filing, however filings may be completed by mail. If filing by mail, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for return of your documents.
When listing the assets, list all information regarding the assets. For bank accounts list name of bank, account number(s) and balance as of date of death. For vehicles include the year and vehicle identification number**. For real estate, list the complete legal description.
**If the only asset to assign is a motor vehicle the Secretary of State may be able to transfer the asset directly without the need of an order from the Court.