One spouse dies unexpectedly and the surviving spouse finds out that their name is not listed on an important asset like a house, car, or bank account. While California
is a community property state, not being listed on these items may prevent you from having access to them when you need them. In the case of a home, not being on title to the house or not being listed on the mortgage could prevent you from selling the home or making mortgage payments.
You may wonder how this could happen, but it’s more common than you think. Sometimes in a home refinance only one spouse has good credit and so that person is the only one put on the home. Also, it’s common for one spouse to be made responsible for the family finances, so that person may have kept everything in their names. No matter what caused the problem, it can be solved.
Sometimes the solution is as simple as recording a new deed or showing the bank a death certificate. Other times a “mini probate” called a Spousal Property Petition must be filed with the court to get an order transferring assets into the surviving spouse’s name. Meeting with an attorney for a free consultation is often a good way to learn about what you need to do to get the house, car, bank accounts, stock, etc. put into your name after the unexpected death of your spouse.