INHERITANCE LAW: Small Estates Intestacy Estate Tax Probate Court

Kern County, California Probate Court

Bakersfield, California 93263


1. Where do I file a petition for probate in Kern County, California?

In the California Court system, probate is handled by the "Superior Courts"

Kern County Superior Court


Website Link


      1215 Truxtun Avenue   Bakersfield, CA 93301



Directory of all California Probate Courts

California Probate Court Locator


2. What's the phone number for the probate court for Kern County, CA?:


3. Where is the FAQ/Self-Help section of the Kern County probate court website?


California Courts Self Help Materials for Probate:


Kern County Court Self Help Materials for Probate:


4. Where Can I Find Probate Forms for Kern County, California?


California Probate Forms, for use in all of California

California Probate Forms


Additional Local Probate Forms specifcally for Kern County court

Kern County Probate Forms:


5. How much does it cost to file a petition for probate in Kern County, California?


6. What's the URL for the State or County land records office?

In order to transfer ownership of real property after someone dies, you need to find the last recorded property deed. A county land records office is the place to research and request such deeds.


State Land Records Office


County Land Records Office

California Probate Toolkit:

Here's a collection of essential tips, articles, recommended books, forms you can use, and ways to connect with a probate lawyer to help you navigate the probate process.

7 Key Facts About Transferring Property at Death in California

  1. Some (most?) property can transfer directly to beneficiaries without probate or a will, such as assets with named beneficiaries like life insurance or retirement accounts, assets owned jointly with right of survivorship, and assets held in living trusts.
  2. If you die with a will (testate), your property that is subject to probate will be distributed according to the instructions in your will. Your will must be submitted to probate court after your death.
  3. If you die without a will (intestate), your property that goes through probate will be distributed according to California's intestate succession laws. Generally, your property goes to your closest relatives in a certain order of priority.
  4. The probate process in most states typically takes 6-12 months. The personal representative named in your will files paperwork with the court to open probate and manages the process of inventorying assets, paying debts, and distributing property. 
  5. Most states have a simplified probate procedure for small estates (under a certain amount). The estate can be transferred with an affidavit 30 days after death if there is no will. 
  6. Property transferred at death receives a stepped-up cost basis, meaning the heir's capital gains tax is calculated based on the market value at the time of death rather than the decedent's original purchase price. That's a HUGE tax advantage for those with generational wealth. You can tell who writes the tax laws....
  7. Most states do not have a state estate tax or inheritance tax. Federal estate tax applies to estates over $12.92 million for an individual or $25.84 million for a married couple. This means estates worth less than this amount are not subject to federal estate tax. For estates that exceed the limit, the tax rate is progressive, starting at 18% and reaching a maximum of 40%. Those estates may need to file a federal estate tax return.

Proper estate planning and asset titling (including the use of Pay on Death Deeds, available in most states) can help ease the property transfer process in California, which may be available in your state.

Articles on Probate

Books, Software & Electronic Forms


eForms is a relative newcomer on the Access to Justice front and does a fine job of offering filli-in forms for every state for a wide range of everyday consumer law matters. For inheritance law, they offer the following forms:

  • Small Estate Affidavit for California: eForms offers Small Estate Affidavits for every state and provides helpful step by step videos on how to use them.
  • Transfer on Death (TOD) Deeds: a useful document available in most states as a way of transferring real estate at death without the complexity of setting up a living trust or the drawbacks of establishing joint ownership during lifetime. (Also available as part of WillMaker software (below).


Nolo has been explaining probate and estate planning to consumers for 40 years, and offers several fine publications. For inheritance law, they offer the following publications:

  • The Executors Guide: ***** Highly Recommended ***** An indispensable guide to helping deal with what needs to happen in the days, weeks, and months after a loved one dies. The week by week step-by-step checklists are a godsend for anyone charged with handling legal affairs in the difficult days after the passing of a loved one.
  • WillMaker Software: ***** Highly Recommended ***** WillMaker makes more than just wills. This software has evolved over the years to now offer a wide variety of useful estate planning documents including 
    • Transfer on Death (TOD) Deeds - also offered by eForms, Transfer on Death deeds are included in the price of WillMaker. 
    • Self Proving Affidavit - every WillMaker will includes a self-proving affidavit to make the probate process faster when the time comes.

Probate Lawyers

A local probate lawyer can take care of everything if you'd like to go that way. There are several directories of probate lawyers on the web including the following 

  • Justia Bakersfield, CA Probate Lawyer Directory - Justia is one of the most established lawyer directories on the internet and has lawyers listed most jurisdictions. Some will even answer questions online.
  • Nolo/Martindale Bakersfield, CA Probate Lawyer Directory
    • In your zip code is served by lawyers in the Nolo/Martindale Lawyer Directory, we offer simple form for you to give them a few details about your case and they can contact you.

Legal Aid options for Bakersfield, CA

AI Tools (ChatGPT, etc.)

AI Tools May be Able to get more information about filing in Kern County, but check the results before relying on them

AI tools on the web can be a great help to legal research. Click on the prompt below to copy it, then click your favorite generative AI tool and paste it in and see what you get. For this kind of prompt, asking for current information, we suggest Google Bard as your best bet.


Where is the Probate Court for Kern County, California, how much are the fees, and where can I download forms I may need?

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Bard

Of all the tools above:

  • Googe Bard is likely to give you the most accurate, up to date answer, (as of July 2023, the last time we tested.)
  • ChatGPT4 won't even answer queries like this at this time.
  • Claude AI tends to give fictitious phone numbers and nonsense URLs!

Common Mistakes that AI Tools make

  1. Street names get garbled. Sometimes it will be the right number but the wrong Street
  2. Amounts for things like small estate limits are not updated for inflation adjustments.
    • Many states adjust limits for inflation.
    • Most AI tools miss this. 
      • But if you prompt them to check for inflation adjustments, they may get it right if you prompt them to check for it. 
  3. Don't ever rely on AI for case law research. All of them fail at this, at least for now (September 2023), and are VERY prone to making up cases that don't exist.

Click here for more tips on how to use generative AI as your probate assistant.



Free Probate Case Evaluation For Bakersfield, CA

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