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Transfer Personal Property With an Affidavit

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When an estate consists of mostly personal property, such as jewelry, furniture, and money in a bank account, you may be able to take advantage of a simplified procedure for transferring ownership of the assets. Estates worth less than $150,000 can utilize an affidavit (a written statement confirmed by oath) in order to transfer personal property. Yet, the affidavit cannot be used for real estate. If you are entitled to receive personal property from your deceased loved one’s estate, it is important to consider this affidavit procedure since it may save the estate valuable time and money.

Are You Legally Entitled to Inherit the Property?

In order to take advantage of this simplified process, you must have the legal right to inherit the personal property from the person who passed away. The California Probate Code lists the people who have this right as the following:

  • A beneficiary under the will
  • The decedent’s heir, if he or she did not have a will
  • The guardian or conservator of the estate

It’s important to note that determining the legal right to inherit property isn’t always straight-forward. Before making this determination, it is important to seek guidance from an experienced attorney.

How to Use the Affidavit Process to Transfer Personal Property

Once you have determined that you are legally entitled to inherit the personal property, you can use an affidavit to transfer title. Generally, the process works as follows:

  1. At least 40 days after your loved one has died, fill out an affidavit for the personal property. Keep in mind that many banks and other financial institutions have their own affidavit that must be used. You can either list all of the personal property on one affidavit, or you can choose to create a separate affidavit for each asset.
  2. Attach the necessary supporting documentation to the affidavit. This information includes the following:
  3. A certified copy of the death certificate
  4. Proof that the person who died owned the property
  5. Proof of your identity
  6. Sign the affidavit in the presence of a notary. While it is not a legal requirement that the affidavit be notarized, many institutions will request it.
  7. Obtain the signatures of all other people entitled to inherit the property. These individuals must sign the affidavit in order to prove that the personal property listed on the affidavit can be properly transferred to you without dispute.
  8. Give the affidavit to the person, company, or bank that is holding the property.

How can an Attorney Help?

In order to ensure that the affidavit process is available to you, consult with an attorney who can properly assess:

  • Whether the estate is valued at less than $150,000.
  • Whether you are legally entitled to receive the property.
  • Other issues that may interfere with the use of an affidavit for transferring personal property.


Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307

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