The passing of a spouse can create various legal consequences for the surviving spouse or domestic partner. In some cases, a deceased spouse/partner may leave the other spouse/partner property through a will or trust; in other cases, the surviving spouse/partner may get the title to the deceased’s property by operation of law. When someone dies, his or her estate is transferred to others, either by will or by the state’s intestacy laws, after the debts of the estate are settled. This legal process is known as probate. In the case of a spouse/partner, he or she may be able to simplify this process by filing a California spousal property petition in probate court.
Usually, any community property owned by a married couple automatically passes to the surviving spouse. In addition, a spouse may leave property to a surviving spouse by will. Even though the surviving spouse then owns the property, titles and other documents may need to be transferred. A California spousal property petition is a simple way to confirm property ownership by judicial recognition or confirmation. The court order will designate the share of community or semi-community property the surviving spouse/partner owns, and the share of the deceased spouse’s/partner’s property belonging to the surviving spouse/partner. This order prevents the need to go through full probate proceedings.
The filing of a California spousal property petition is voluntary, and a surviving spouse/partner can choose not to file a spousal property petition, and go through full probate proceedings instead.
Who Can File a California Spousal Property Petition?
There are only a few people who can file a spousal property petition. These are:
- The surviving spouse;
- The surviving domestic partner; and
- Representatives of the spouse/partner.
To start the filing, a surviving spouse/partner must fill out a form and file it with the clerk of the court. The spousal property petition is filed in the county in where the decedent lived or owned property. When submitting the documents, you must attach the deceased’s will, if one exists, and any other agreements showing to whom the property subject to the petition belongs.
After you file, the court clerk will tell you your court hearing date. Due to the straightforward nature of the petition, it usually only takes one hearing to issue an order. For the hearing, you will need to give notice to certain people, such as the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate, and any other beneficiaries. Depending on what the judge decides, you will receive an order from the court detailing the court’s findings of the property involved.
We Can Help File Your California Spousal Property Petition
If you are considering filing a California spousal property petition to settle an estate in California and want to avoid the high cost of attorney’s fees, contact A People’s Choice for low-cost legal document assistance. Although we cannot give legal advice, A People’s Choice can help you in preparing all the required legal documents to help you settle the estate by filing a California spousal property petition without having to hire a lawyer.