California Legislators Provide Shortcut Law to Help Senior Homeowners

HouseWritten by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), a new law, AB 139, is unlike most of the over-reaching and bombastic legislation that originates in the State Capital. As reported in The San Diego Times-Union, "State ushers in refreshingly modest law," this new law makes one aspect of estate planning easier for California homeowners.

The measure, which passed unanimously in both the Assembly and the Senate, creates "a new, non-probate method for conveying real property upon death through a revocable transfer upon death deed." It's a simple way for people to transfer their home (or one-to-four-unit investment properties) upon their death – without having to pay for a living trust or having it all sorted out in probate court.

California had provided simple "payable upon death" forms for many valuable items, such as automobiles and stock accounts, but not for real property. Creating a trust has many advantages, but legislators realized that without a trust, the estate would be handled in a potentially lengthy probate process.

The new one-page form requires the parcel number, the name of the owner (grantor), and the people who inherit the property and their relationship to the owner. It must be notarized. And the law contains a clause that deals with potential coercion. That's all.

The primary residence is the biggest asset in many seniors' estates; in fact, for many, the primary residence is their only asset. The new law will help make transferring their property to heirs far easier.

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Reference: San Diego Times-Union (January 18, 2016) "State ushers in refreshingly modest law”

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