Senate Bill 1271 - Spousal Property Petitions

July 31, 2016

Fact Sheet (PDF)

Bill Language (PDF)

Legislative Information


Senate Bill 1271 helps create greater efficiency in our courts by simplifying the probate process to make clear the courts’ flexibility to rule on whether or not any property in question is, in fact, community property or separate property, if such property is the subject of a probate dispute.

Specifically, AB 1271 amends California Probate Code Sections 13651 and 13656 to clarify that the courts have the authority, in ruling on a spousal property petition, to determine the character of the property sought to be passed to the surviving spouse and need not require the separate filing of an 850 petition. It does not seek to prevent a court from requiring the filing of an 850 petition; however, it is expected that probate examiners and judges reading Probate Code Sections 13651 and 13656, amended as proposed, would view a separate 850 proceeding as unnecessary, especially where the spousal property petition is uncontested.

The purpose of SB 1271 is to clarify that a surviving spouse may request, and the court may issue, an order determining the character of property passing to the surviving spouse directly in the spousal property petition. This will help facilitate improved functioning of the courts when dealing with these matters.