What is a Spousal (or Domestic Partner) Property Petition?

A spousal property petition is a tool that simplifies the probate process for married couples. It is also available to domestic partners. In essence, the spousal property petition streamlines the transfer of assets to a surviving spouse or domestic partner. It is quicker than the probate process and legal fees associated tend to be reduced as a result.

If those are the benefits, why doesn’t everyone use this petition? The answer is its use is only available in special situations. The situation must usually be cut and dry for a court to approve a spousal property petition. Specifically, if the spouse is the only beneficiary of the estate, there is little for the court to do besides approve the estate. This can be done by filing a spousal property petition.

If there are other beneficiaries in the will, this can prevent effective use of a spousal property petition. At hearing, they may object to the disposition of property to a surviving spouse typically claiming that the will was not validly executed. Given this, a spouse should consider whether a will contest from other interested parties is possible before pursuing a spousal property petition.

Quick disposition can clear title to property permitting its further use or allocation. For instance, the name of a deceased person must be cleared from the property title before a surviving spouse may refinance or sell the property.

Spousal property petitions can be resolved as quickly as one month from their filing. Their filing can be accomplished by submitting a petition to the Superior Court in the county where the decedent resided during life. To learn more about spousal property petitions and find creative ways to minimize the probate process in your situation, feel free to contact us at (626) 696-3145.

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