Overview: A Spousal Property Petition is a set of documents to request a probate hearing in which the court can make an order to transfer certain specific assets obtained through marriage or a domestic partnership. In this process, the court will give an order to transfer and confirm property to a surviving spouse. The California Court’s website states,

If the surviving spouse/partner is legally entitled to all of the property, a more complicated probate procedure may not be required.

With a Spousal Property Petition, property can be legally transferred to the surviving spouse in a little over one month’s time with less paperwork, less costs and less requirements than a regular probate.  A link to the California court’s page with more information is found below.

Documents: California Courts have “Judicial Counsel Forms” which are forms adopted for use in all courts in all 58 California counties, which include specific forms for Spousal Property Petitions. The packet of forms includes the Petition, several attachments, a cover sheet to establish jurisdiction, as well as an order for the judge to sign. Furthermore, as described below, there are forms to confirm proof of notification to all concerned parties.

The Court: A Spousal Property Petition is filed in one of Riverside County’s 3 probate courts. The hearings will take place at the same courthouse where the Spousal Property Petition is filed. Currently, the probate courts in Riverside County are located in Temecula, Indio and at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Riverside.

Notification: After documents are filed with the court, required notifications must be completed, which is standard in all probate cases. The notifications must be forwarded to the people listed in the Spousal Property Petition, typically by U.S. postal mail. Proof of these notifications must be filed with the court prior to the hearing.

Probate Notes: Probate notes are notes that a probate examiner completes in all probate processes. The probate examiner is someone who works within the probate court to review filed documents and to be sure that all requirements have been met accurately. In an effort to avoid last minute delays, their findings are posted to address any deficiencies to be corrected prior to the hearing. Learn what a probate note deficiency is here. Commonly, Riverside County probate notes are published weeks before the hearing.

Timeline: Compared to a standard probate process, the Spousal Property Petition case is fast. Documents can typically be professionally prepared and filed in a few days to set a hearing, which is usually about 40 days later. In most cases, if probate notes are cleared, the Petitioner will leave the hearing with a Spousal Property Order.

Fees: Compared to a standard probate process in Riverside County, filing a Spousal Property Petition costs less. The initial Riverside probate court cost consists of a filing fee and a court reporter fee. If you need a certified copy of your order (learn more below), you can obtain one from the probate clerk after the hearing, for an additional certification fee. Orders transferring real estate are recorded at the county recorder with a recording fee.

To be sure that their case proceeds smoothly and correctly, many people hire a legal document preparation service to complete their Spousal Property Petition. If you are ready to file, our team of bonded and registered Legal Document Assistants can help. We prepare all required documents, file them at the court for you, and complete required notices and proof of notices. After filing, we check the probate notes on a consistent basis to be sure your hearing is a success. You simply show up at your court hearing, in person or by telephone to get your final order.

Disclaimer: Not all spouses qualify for a Spousal Property Petition in Riverside County. There are other proceedings sometime required to transfer property with spouses in California Courts. If you are unsure you should consult with an Estate Planning/Probate attorney.