Monday, June 8, 2009

Beneficiary Deeds Legislation Passes Assembly - Again

To no one's surpise, AB 724, Irvine Assemblyman Chuck DeVore's third attempt to establish Revocable Transfer on Death Deeds (aka "Beneficiary Deeds") in California, has passed the state Assembly yet again. The 79-0 vote on June 2 might have been a bit surprising, but not much.

The real question whether the bill can clear the state Senate.

AB 724 would establish, until January 1, 2015, a formal non-probate method for conveying real property (with or without life estate) upon death through a "revocable transfer upon death deed" (RTDD). Such transfers actually have been authorized in California since 1914 (Tennant v. John Tennant Memorial Home, 167 Cal. 570), but they are virtually never used, probably because virtually no one is aware of them. By providing mandatory forms to use (and undoubtedly to be spread far and wide via legal self-help web sites, blogs, etc.), AB 724 clearly would change all that.

DeVore's first bill to create RTDD’s in California, AB 12 of 2005, stalled in the face of strong opposition from a number of sources and was converted to a bill to require a study of the issue by the California Law Revision Commission, which recommended that such deeds be authorized for use. DeVore’s second bill, AB 250 of 2007, easily passed the Assembly, but ran into strong opposition from committee members, staff, the California Land Title Association, the California Judges Association, in the Senate Judiciary Committee and failed passage. The arguments against the bill are well summarized in the Senate Judiciary Committee analysis.

Although AB 724 hardly differs at all from its predecessor and the same opposition seems to be lined up against the bill, the membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee has changed substantially from the prior session, which DeVore hopes will produce a different outcome.

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