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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 117425
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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Hello, My aunt died in 2006 in San Francisco. My sisters

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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.

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Customer: replied 4 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.
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