Staying Informed About California Transfer on Death Deeds

Tightening Up the Rules

This year has been an interesting one for California’s revocable transfer on death deed. Beginning in 2022, California homeowners using TOD deeds (sometimes just called TODDs) must have two adult witnesses sign the document. So, for a valid TOD deed, you must sign the document, have your signature notarized, have two witnesses, and file the deed for public recording with the county within 60 days once it’s notarized.

First, no need to panic. If your California TOD was properly recorded before Jan. 1, 2022, it will still be a valid document.

Now, let’s look at the California TOD deed in its updated form.

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Here Come the Tenants in Common

Image of a hazy skyline in California, story about tenancy in common real estate

Making L.A. Affordable

A form of co-ownership called the tenancy in common is picking up steam in California cities — most recently, in Los Angeles, where a company named B&A Group LLC is overhauling single-home properties so they become multi-unit townhomes.

Each buyer receives a share of ownership in a townhome, with the exclusive rights over one section of the building. The co-owners pay monthly dues to a homeowners’ association to cover maintenance costs.

A set of new California “upzoning” laws has made this model possible in more areas, so we’re expecting the trend to take off. What’s to like — and what’s not to like — about the tenants in common model?

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California Targets Unfair Appraisals

California residential housing with a cityscape in the background

2021 Fair Housing Law Roundup

Diversity, inclusion and fairness are key goals for today’s real estate industry. Biased appraisals thwart these goals. To help remediate the problem, California enacted Assembly Bill 948 on Sep. 28, 2021. Under the new law, bias in appraisals is against the appraisers’ licensing law as well as state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. This is big news for home appraisal professionals.

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Estate Planning With a Transfer on Death Deed

New Rules for California Homeowners

A parent and child standing outside discussing important things.

Since 2016, California has been offering homeowners a very simple way to transfer their homes to beneficiaries. It’s called the transfer on death deedalso written as TOD deed, TODD, or beneficiary deed. A TOD deed, where a state allows it, enables a named beneficiary to take title without the need for probate or trust administration.

Fast-forward to September 2021. California’s governor has signed Senate Bill 315 into law. This has changed the way a homeowner can create or revoke a transfer on death deed, starting in 2022.

Note: If a California TOD is executed before Jan. 1, 2022, it will be valid.

Now, what’s the difference between the current TOD law and the one that takes effect in 2022? Let’s check it

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On the Rise (and Protected From Prop 19): The Interspousal Deed in California

Image of people sitting in an office discussing California's Prop 19 and the interspousal grant deed

A quitclaim deed is sometimes used for transferring a home between spouses, but another option in some states is the interspousal transfer grant deed (“interspousal deed”). It, too, can pass a house between spouses without a sale. The interspousal deed, whose entire purpose is to change the ownership on the title, is the preferred instrument for couples in California.

You can find California’s interspousal grant deed here.

Traditionally, interspousal conveyances are not subject to gift or transfer taxes. But in 2021 you might ask: What about California’s Proposition 19? Will that trigger a tax reassessment on interspousal transfer grant deeds now? The short answer is no.

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California Mechanic’s Lien Process

Most real estate owners will, at some point, use a contractor to build or improve upon their property. This is generally a straightforward process wherein the contractor arranges the project according to the terms of the contract, and sees it to completion. The satisfied owner then pays the bill. What happens when the contractor finishes the project, but the customer refuses to pay? That’s where the mechanic’s liens apply.

The California Mechanic's Lien Process
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Homestead Exemptions and Living Trusts: a Look at California, Florida, and Texas

The information presented in this article is not all-encompassing, nor is it meant to be construed as professional legal advice. Because homestead exemption laws are complicated, consult a qualified attorney with questions regarding homestead exemptions and living trusts in your state.

Via Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed., a homestead is “[t]he house, outbuildings, and adjoining land owned and occupied by a person or family as a residence. As long as the homestead does not exceed in area or value the limits fixed by law, in most states it is exempt from forced sale for collection of a debt.” A homestead can only be designated in one jurisdiction, generally where the owner maintains permanent residence.

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