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Enforcing a California Small Estate Affidavit (CA Probate Code section 13105)

I previously described how it is sometimes possible – at least in California – to handle a deceased person’s estate informally without the need to go to court, hire lawyers, etc. In California, this is often referred to as the Small Estate Affidavit process. I even made a video about it on my Youtube channel. While you’re at it, throw me a subscribe if you wouldn’t mind. The Small Estate Affidavit process in California is only available if the deceased person’s estate meets various criteria. I’m not going to go over every single criteria, but the two big ones are: (1) the gross value of the estate has to be less than $150,000, and (2) at least 40 calendar days has to have elapsed since the person passed away. If you’re looking for the language of the affidavit, I’d recommend you check out Section 13101 of the California Probate Code for a start. However, let’s say that you’ve met all the criteria to do the Small Estate Affidavit process in California (e.g. the estate is definitely worth less than $150,000 and 40 calendar days definitely have passed), but the person or business you’re trying to use the Affidavit at won’t honor it. What then? The answer to that question is in Section 13105 of the California Probate Code which provides that the person presenting the Affidavit is entitled to whatever property or items he or she is seeking as long as the person has met the requirements contained in Sections 13100 to 13104 of the California Probate Code. Sections 13100 to 13104 are fairly straightforward and include requirements like...

Drugs and DUI in California

Is it possible in California to get charged with drunk driving (aka “driving under the influence”) if you’re high on drugs instead of intoxicated on alcohol? Absolutely. I’m guessing that that isn’t widely known given the fact that I snapped the above picture on April 21, 2019 on Highway 99 in Merced County, California. Weirdly, there are several laws that apply here. I’m going to mention four of them. First, there is California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f). It’s short and sweet. It specifically says: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle”. You would think that this would be clear enough to not need another law, but you’d be wrong. The problem that arises under Section 23152(f), however, is that there isn’t a specific standard by which “under the influence” of a drug can be proven like it can be with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 or more for alcohol intoxication. To address this problem, California has two additional laws — Vehicle Code sections 23220 and 23221 — which forbid the driver and passenger of a vehicle from using alcohol, marijuana, and marijuana products while the vehicle is being driven. Lastly, Vehicle Code section 23152(g) makes it “unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.”  ...

California Temporary License Plates on New Vehicles

I’ve never bought a new vehicle in any state other than California. I’m guessing this happens in other states too, but the way it works in California is that you won’t get your actual metal license plates from the California Department of Motor Vehicles until several weeks after you actually drive your vehicle home from the dealership. It used to be that during this time, the only license plate you would have is a paper license plate that usually just had the name and logo of the dealership on it for advertising purposes. Once you got your metal license plates in the mail, you’d install them and throw your paper dealership license plates away. As you can probably guess, having no way to uniquely identify a vehicle for several weeks caused problems. There was no way to catch drivers who would evade automated toll systems at bridge crossings, for instance. FasTrak is a common system in California while in the Midwestern US and East Coast, E-ZPass is more common. Drivers of new vehicles could avoid parking tickets too. It was difficult to track vehicles used in crimes (e.g. bank robberies) as well. If you live in California, you may have noticed that starting in 2019, new vehicles started coming from the dealership with temporary license plates that look like this one. Instead of a paper plate that just had the dealership’s name and logo on it, the new temporary license plate comes with a unique identifying number that is assigned to that particular vehicle until the metal permanent license plate arrives. The reason behind this change is — not...

California: Service of Summons by Acknowledgment

In a prior post, I went over how it’s possible in California to use a newspaper ad to serve a defendant in a lawsuit who either can’t be found or purposely does not want to be found. Serving a defendant by publication in this way is the exception rather than the norm. Today, I’m going to go over another service method which usually isn’t the norm, but really should be: Service by Acknowledgment. The applicable statute in California is Code of Civil Procedure section 415.30(a). “Service by Acknowledgment” is a fancy of way of saying that the summons and complaint in the case is simply mailed to the Defendant along with a form (called the “Acknowledgment”) that the Defendant then signs and mails back to the Plaintiff. The fact that the Defendant signs and mails it back is the proof that the Defendant was served. The benefit of the Service by Acknowledgment method should be obvious: it’s extremely cheap and simple. All it takes is the cost of postage and the Defendant’s cooperation. In comparison, the cost of hiring a process server to locate and serve a defendant would almost certainly be more, especially if the process server has to make multiple attempts. For these reasons, I generally try to use Service by Acknowledgment whenever possible. In California, there are standard Acknowledgment forms. For California family law cases, the Acknowledgement is California Judicial Council Form FL-117. For regular civil cases (e.g. breach of contract, personal injury, etc) in California, the Acknowledgment is Judicial Council Form POS-015. Two points to know about Service by Acknowledgment under CCP section 415.30: The...
Cashing Out Gift Cards in California

Cashing Out Gift Cards in California

I was on a road trip recently through the Central Valley of California and stopped in at a Jack In the Box. I forgot where I was heading, but I’m fairly certain it was early morning because I remember ordering a most excellent breakfast burrito along with an absolutely terrible cup of coffee. Burritos and coffee aside, though, I cam across this sign while waiting for my order. Because I’m me, I snapped a photo of it to aid in discussing it with all of you. The California law the sign is citing to is the CA Civil Code and it’s specifically section 1749.5(b)(2) which states that, as of January 1, 2008 ” Notwithstanding paragraph (1), any gift certificate with a cash value of less than ten dollars ($10) is redeemable in cash for its cash value.”   Paragraph (1) of CA Civil Code section 1749.5(b) further states that ” Any gift certificate sold after January 1, 1997, is redeemable in cash for its cash value, or subject to replacement with a new gift certificate at no cost to the purchaser or holder.“ CA Civil Code section 1749.45(a) defines “gift certificate” to include gift cards as, I believe, most people would normally interpret the term (i.e. a card issued by and usable at a single merchant or retailer). However, section 1749.45(a)‘s definition of “gift certificate” excludes those gift cards “usable with multiple sellers of goods or services” provided that any applicable expiration date is printed on the card. I rarely use gift cards so these multiple seller cards didn’t ring a bell. Sure enough, though, the very next time I was at the grocery store, what do I see but this: Section 1749.5 also goes over the...