Gatto Wants to Cut Probate Fees for Families

By On January 12, 2015

To pass the contents of a bank account, a prized automobile, or a multi-million-dollar stock account upon your death, all you need to do is fill out a form.  These “Payable On Death” transfers help families avoid the ridiculously high fees and time-consuming bureaucracy of probate.  Even though family members can easily deed a house to a loved one while alive, there is no easy way in California to do so upon death.

Today, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) introduced legislation to remedy this, and to remove a layer of stress and bureaucracy for grieving families.  Assembly Bill 139 would create a “Revocable Transfer on Death (TOD) Deed” in California, allowing a homeowner to specify who their house should be deeded to upon passing.  AB 139 would also relieve California’s already overburdened court system.  Over twenty states already allow such transfers.

“Government should not add to the headaches and familial hardship caused by the death of a family member,” said Gatto.  “Just like a person can designate a bank account to go to a loved one upon death, by allowing individuals to transfer property cleanly using a TOD Deed, we can avoid the costly probate process and give families greater peace of mind.”

The legislation comes after a recommendation by the California Law Revision Commission that the legislature look to the experiences of other states and provide this more streamlined option for those making estate plans.

“One of the primary roles of the legislature should be to make life easier for the average Californian.  By helping Californians avoid government bureaucracy and probate fees, AB 139 will do just that,” said the Assemblyman.  “Estate planning and the probate process are daunting tasks for families to face, even under the easiest of circumstances. Giving Californians access to a Revocable Transfer on Death Deed will go a long way towards avoiding some of the hassle of settling a loved one’s affairs.”

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