If the deceased had real estate in California and it was valued at more than $20,000 but less than $150,000 then a Probate would be necessary. However, this is called a Succession of Real Property which is a shorter Probate and less costly. If the value of the property (that is not real estate)is under $150,000 in California, it is not considered an estate. In this case, a Probate Code Declaration would need to be prepared by an attorney so that assets could be transferred to the heirs or beneficiaries. A Probate Code Declaration is not used for real estate. If there is real estate or land that is valued at under $20,000 then an affidavit would be needed to transfer ownership to heirs or beneficiaries. An heir is the person who receives assets when there is no will or trust. A beneficiary is someone who is named in a will or a trust or has been named to receive assets in a bank account or brokerage account etc. Many elderly people have ‘reverse mortgages’ which requires a sale of the property upon death. Equity is determined by the sale price minus what is owed on the property. If the value of the property in a reverse mortgage is over $150,000 then a Probate may be necessary when there is no trust.