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SB-1305 Revocable transfer on death deeds.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 05/13/2020 09:00 PM

Amended  IN  Senate  May 13, 2020


Senate Bill
No. 1305

Introduced by Senator Roth

February 21, 2020

An act to amend Section 27281 of the Government Code, and to amend Sections 5600, 5608, 5624, 5632, 5642, 5644, 5652, 5674, 5682, 5690, and 5694 of, to add Sections 5605, 5615, 5618, 5625, 5658, 5659, 5677, 5678, and 5681 to, to repeal Section 5676 of, and to repeal and add Section 5610 of, 5600 of the Probate Code, relating to revocable transfer on death deeds.


SB 1305, as amended, Roth. Revocable transfer on death deeds.
Existing law governs the execution, revocation, and effectiveness of a revocable transfer on death (TOD) deed, defined as an instrument that makes a donative transfer of property to a named beneficiary, as defined, that operates on the transferor’s death, and remains revocable until the transferor’s death. Existing law establishes statutory forms for executing and revoking a revocable TOD deed that include provisions and instructions for the forms to be notarized by the transferor and recorded with the county recorder. Existing law requires that subsequent pages of the form to execute a revocable TOD deed include statutory “common questions” regarding the use of that form. Existing law requires that, in order to be effective, a revocable TOD deed be recorded on or before 60 days after the date it was executed. Existing law makes these provisions inoperative on January 1, 2021.

This bill would revise and recast those provisions, and instead make them operative until January 1, 2031. Among other things, the bill would redefine and newly define terms for these purposes, including, but not limited to, “beneficiary,” “real property,” “subscribing witness,” and “unsecured debts.” The bill would make changes to how a revocable TOD deed becomes effective or revoked, and would instead require the deed or revocation to be signed by the transferor, acknowledged before a notary public, dated, and signed by 2 witnesses, as specified. The bill would add additional provisions to the statutory forms for executing and revoking a revocable TOD deed to conform to these changes, and would add additional information to the statutory “common questions” pages. The bill would require, after the death of a transferor, that the beneficiary serve notice on the transferor’s heirs, and would create a new statutory notice form for these purposes.

Under specified circumstances, the bill would authorize a court in which a transferor’s estate is being administered to apply the doctrine of cy pres to reform a revocable TOD deed that was made by the transferor for a charitable purpose. The bill would also provide that an error or ambiguity in describing property or designating a beneficiary would not invalidate a revocable TOD deed if the transferor’s intention can be determined by a court. The bill would establish new processes for, and add provisions relating to, among other things, the enforceability of unrecorded interests, the personal liability of a beneficiary, calculating a beneficiary’s share of liability, the return of property to an estate by a beneficiary, and contesting the validity of a transfer or revocation, as specified.

The bill would specify that these changes do not apply to TOD deeds or revocation forms that were signed before January 1, 2021.

The bill would require the California Law Revision Commission to study the effect of these provisions, as specified, and report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature on or before January 1, 2030.

Existing law prohibits a deed or grant conveying any interest in or easement upon real estate to a political corporation or governmental agency for public purposes from being accepted for recordation without the consent of the grantee evidenced by a certificate or resolution of acceptance attached to or printed on the deed or grant pursuant to a specified form.

This bill would make these provisions inapplicable to a revocable TOD deed, and instead specify that title does not transfer under a revocable TOD deed until the political corporation or governmental agency records a resolution of acceptance or certificate of consent in a form substantially similar to the form described above.

This bill would extend the operative date of those provisions until January 1, 2022.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YESNO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


 Section 5600 of the Probate Code is amended to read:

 (a) This part applies to a revocable transfer on death deed made by a transferor who dies on or after January 1, 2016, whether the deed was executed or recorded before, on, or after January 1, 2016.
(b) Nothing in this part invalidates an otherwise valid transfer under Section 5602.
(c) This part shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2021, 2022, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2021, 2022, deletes or extends that date. The repeal of this part pursuant to this subdivision shall not affect the validity or effect of a revocable transfer on death deed that is executed before January 1, 2021, 2022, and shall not affect the authority of the transferor to revoke a transfer on death deed by recording a signed and notarized instrument that is substantially in the form specified in Section 5644.