CA Assembly Bill 139 | NNA
Law

CA Assembly Bill 139

Notary Law Update: CA Assembly Bill 139

State: California

Summary:

Assembly Bill 139 allows an owner of real property to transfer title to the property upon the owner's death by means of a revocable transfer on death deed that must be acknowledged before a Notary.

Signed:  September 21, 2015

Effective:  January 01, 2016

Chapter: Chapter 293

Affects:

Amends Sections 2337 and 2040 of the Family Code, amends Sections 250, 267, 279, 2580, 5000, 5302, 13111, 13206, and 13562 of, amends and renumbers Sections 5600, 5601, 5602, 5603, and 5604 of, adds Section 69 to, to add the heading of Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5040) to Part 1 of Division 5 of, adds and repeals Part 4 (commencing with Section 5600) of Division 5 of, and repeals the heading of Part 4 (commencing with Section 5600) of Division 5 of, the Probate Code.

Changes:
  1. Permits the transfer of real property by means of a transfer on death deed until January 1, 2021.
  2. Requires a transfer on death deed to be acknowledged before a Notary.
  3. Requires the transfer on death deed to be recorded prior to the grantor's death and no longer than 60 days after it is signed..
  4. Provides that the transfer on death deed is nontestamentary (is not a "last will" and is not required to be probated as such).
  5. Provides that the person executing the transfer on death deed to have the capacity required to contract and make a revocable transfer on death deed.
  6. Provides a form for a transfer on death deed and revocation of a transfer on death deed.
Analysis:

According to the bill author, California law offers individuals ways to transfer real property to a chosen beneficiary at death. These include a will, trust, joint tenancy, and community property. While some of these ways to effect a transfer of property must happen during the property owner’s lifetime, others happen upon death, and each vary in the cost and ease of transfer, revocability options, ownership rights, effect on Medi-Cal eligibility, and availability to creditors. Although other estate planning options are available to property owners, the revocable transfer on death deed is the most simple and inexpensive option. Furthermore, it may be the only tool available to unmarried homeowners who wish to leave their property to a lifelong partner, family member, friend or loved one upon death, but who do not want to transfer present interest (such as joint tenancy) or cannot afford to set up a trust.

Under the new law which expires January 1, 2021, a transfer on death deed must be signed and acknowledged before a Notary Public. Thus, for California Notaries, a transfer on death deed ranks right alongside deeds, deeds of trust and mortgages, powers of attorney and living trusts as "high value" documents that they will be asked to handle. Notaries must be careful in handling any document they are asked to notarize because of the potential legal implications, but they should be especially careful when they are asked to notarize a transfer on death deed. 

Read the bill text.

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