After the death of a spouse, many clients call me and ask me what to do. While there are several things that can be done, there is usually no emergency. I tell the client to take a few weeks and grieve. Then they can call me to discuss any steps they should be taking.
One of the things I usually help my clients with is taking the deceased spouse off of title to the real estate. This is done by filing an "Affidavit of Death" with the county recorder's office. Also, you need to file a "Preliminary Change of Ownership Report" to keep the property taxes at the same level.
The affidavit puts the county recorder's office on notice that a spouse has passed away, and now only one person is in charge of the real estate. This is a simplification of the process, but that's essentially what you are doing with respect to real estate. Why would you take the spouse off the property? Well, if there is any chance the property would be sold in the future, then only one signature would be required (that of the surviving spouse).
Robert Mansour is a Santa Clarita, CA attorney who can help you protect yourself and your family with a solid estate plan. To learn more about estate planning, click here to watch an information video.