Options for the Post Death Transfer of California Real Property Tip Sheet by Deed and Record

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Tip Sheet by Deed and Record explains what happens to real property on the death of the owner. What happens will depend if there is a plan or no plan.

Post Death Transfer of Real Property in California

No planning relies on the laws of intestacy and probate administration.

This Tip Sheet by Deed and Record explains the post death transfer of real property by either planning ahead or letting the laws of California take their course. Examples of planning are; trusts, joint ownership, life time transfers and transfer on death deeds. No planning relies on the laws of intestacy and probate administration.

Intestacy law identifies who is the next of kin. The surviving spouse is the default next of kin and If there is no surviving spouse, then the children of the deceased inherit. If there is no spouse or children, then parents inherit or if no parents survive, brothers and sisters inherit and so on until the nearest living relative is found. The intestacy laws follow what most people would do if they planned.

Planning is not required for the post death transfer of California real property. Transfers occur under the administration of the probate court. The problem is the transfer of real property in probate court requires court hearings, takes time and is expensive. But these are not problems for the decedent, but for the decedent’s heirs.

If an owner of real property is concerned about who will inherit the real property or the cost and time of the post death transfer, planning is needed. Most plans are not complete plans. For example, a will is not a complete plan. It does state who will inherit, but a will does not avoid probate administration.

Joint ownership of real property and transfer on death deeds can be complete plans if the intended heir does not predecease the owner. But if the intended heir predeceases, joint ownership and a transfer on death deed are as if the real property owner did no planning.

A gift is a complete plan. But the gift is in effect the abdication of any responsibility and the surrender of control of the real property. Life time gifts also have unfavorable tax consequences when compared to post death transfers of real property.

A complete plan is trust. A trust identifies heirs, avoids probate and provides for contingencies if the original plan does not come through. A trust does not have unfavorable tax consequences and can be changed.

An owner of real property has two options for the post death transfer of real property. Either plan ahead or let the probate laws of California take their course. Planning has many forms; trusts, joint ownership, life time transfers and transfer on death deeds. No planning involves the laws of intestacy and probate administration.

This Tip Sheet was prepared by Mark W. Bidwell, an attorney licensed in the state of California. Office is at 4952 Warner Avenue, Suite 235, Huntington Beach, CA 92649. Phone number is 714-846-2888. Mark@DeedandRecord.com

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Mark Bidwell
Timeshare Lovers
since: 05/2016
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