How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 110503
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
Type Your Estate Law Question Here...
Law Educator, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hello, My aunt died in 2006 in San Francisco. My sisters

This answer was rated:


My aunt died in 2006 in San Francisco. My sisters and I were her surviving next of kin and the sole heirs to her small (under $25,000) estate. Because her estate was under $100,000, I never registered the will with court. I was able to establish a bank account, pay all her outstanding debts and distribute the balance by signing affidavits and showing her death certificate. Now, seven years later, I received a $1,500 check from California unclaimed property (that took about a year to get and LOTS of documentation). I used my last certified death certificate to make the unclaimed property claim, and now, I need another to cash the check (I had long ago closed the estate account). But because I am a niece and not a closer relative and because I don't have court documentation, the San Francisco county clerk's office will not provide me with one. What would be the best way to get this death certificate? Is it too late to file the will with the court? Any other ideas? It is frustrating that California lists the relationships allowed to get a death certificate without a provision for surviving next of kin, but I looked through the statute and it doesn't appear to have an exception. Thank you.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

I am afraid that if you cannot get the death certificate because of the statutory relationship guidelines not being met, that probate must be opened in the probate court and upon you being named administrator of the estate you could obtain the death certificate. You can file it as a small estate probate based on the small value of the estate under $150,000, and ask the probate court for the letters of administration which would allow you to get the death certificate. Because it was not filed within 5 years of her death, the probate clerk can refer it to the probate court for approval of the small estate, but this just means the court has to approve of the small estate and order the affidavits of administration/heirship.

Thank you so much for using I truly aim to please you as a customer, but please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me. If I did not answer the question you thought you were asking, please respond with the specific question you wanted answered. PLEASE use REPLY to EXPERT if you would like more information or if you feel something was not included in your answer.

Kindly remember the ONLY WAY experts receive any credit at all for spending time with customers is if you click on OK, GOOD or EXCELLENT SERVICE even though you have made a deposit or are a subscription customer. YOU MUST COMPLETE THE RATING FOR THE EXPERT TO XXXXX CREDIT, if not the site keeps your money on deposit.

Also remember, sometimes the law does not support what we want it to support, but that is not the fault of the person answering the question, so please be courteous.


There can also be a delay of an hour or more in between my answers because I may be taking a break.

You can always request me through my profile at or beginning your question with “For PaulMJD…”

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. Can I do this filing with the court myself? Does it have to be done in person? And in what court (like would I have to go all the way to SF)? I live in Washington State.

Thank you for your response.

It does have to be done in person or with an attorney and it has to be filed in the probate court in SF where she resided at the time of her death I am afraid.
Law Educator, Esq. and 4 other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you

Related Estate Law Questions