Over the years, I have received inquiries from people who have had a spouse pass away and needed property which was the separate property to be transferred to them. For instance, imagine the deceased spouse inherited property and the property was titled only in the name of the deceased spouse. Also, imagine that the surviving spouse would like to title this property in there name without having to go through probate? Is there an option in this scenario. The answer is yes! The surviving spouse can file a petition known as a Spousal Property Petition.
In California, there are certain requirements for a Spousal Property Petition. For instance, the Surviving Spouse generally must either be the Beneficiary in the Will or Trust of the Deceased Spouse. Another means by which the Surviving Spouse might be able to benefit from a Spousal Property Petition is if the surviving spouse had a Community Property interest in the property, such as when a Property is acquired during the course of their marriage. Even if the property was only titled in the name of the deceased spouse, a surviving spouse may be able to obtain Title to the Property through a Spousal Property Petition.
One great benefit of a Spousal Property Petition versus probate is that they can be completed in a very short time period. In fact, it is possible to file an Ex Parte Application for a Spousal Petition which can be approved in as little as a day provided that all interested parties are properly noticed. I also usually like to obtain a consent form from all interested parties. Once the paperwork is in order, the petition can be approved almost immediately and the order can be filed in the Recorder's Office to transfer title to Real Property. Another advantage of course is that Spousal Property Petitions are also much less costly than Probate.
So, all in all, if you are the only Beneficiary of your deceased spouses's Will or Trust or you have a Community Property interest in your deceased spouse's property, a Spousal Property Petition is generally a better option than Probate.
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