Q.What is a spousal property petition?
A.In short, a spousal petition is a simplified probate process that enables surviving spouses (and domestic partners) to more quickly transfer title of certain assets into their name. In California, if the person who dies is survived by a spouse (or domestic partner), the spouse can file a spousal property petition with the probate court. While this does not eliminate probate, it does provide for a simplified probate process where title to community property assets can be quickly transferred to the surviving spouse. This simplified probate generally takes much less time and often results in reduced legal fees.
If the deceased spouse owned separate property and listed his or her spouse as the sole beneficiary then the spousal petition can be used to transfer the separate property too. However, if the deceased spouse owned separate property and did not have a will that gives the separate property to his or her spouse, a full probate will be required because between one-half and two-thirds of the separate property could be inherited by the deceased spouse's children under the rules of intestate succession.