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New bill from Assemblyman Gatto aims at expense and delay of probate




C. 1955 photo of the Brousseau mansion on Bunker Hill, built in 1878. It later became a boarding house.
C. 1955 photo of the Brousseau mansion on Bunker Hill, built in 1878. It later became a boarding house.
LAPL/Security Pacific National Bank Collection

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Say your folks own a nice house like this one. If they put it into a trust, that speeds its transfer to the heirs (you) but costs thousands of dollars to set up. If it goes to probate, that's tens of thousands in costs and months, maybe years, of delay.

There are some advantages to probate: you get formal proceedings overseen by the court, and a cutoff to claims that creditors can make. But Glendale Assemblyman Mike Gatto's  AB 139, which has passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee and now heads to Appropriations, would let homeowners treat a home like most any other asset, and avoid the torturous, expensive probate process.

AB 139 would create a “Revocable Transfer on Death (TOD) Deed” in California to let the homeowner specify to whom their house should be deeded to when they die. 

“It is illogical and unfair to allow someone to pass a $250,000 retirement account and a $50,000 classic car easily, but then to force our constituents into probate if that same individual owns a $150,000 house." -- Assemblyman Mike Gatto

Gatto says 25 other states have this system, without a single instance of abuse.