Hello and thank you for your question. Although you will need to
consult a California attorney if the husband's attorney proceeds with
a legal action against you, you should have little cause to worry.
"Property Held in Joint Tenancy
The main characteristic of joint tenancy is the "right of
survivorship." This means that when one joint tenant (owner) dies,
the property passes automatically to the remaining joint tenants(s).
The decedent's name is cleared from title by filing a simple affidavit
with the County Recorder's office. Property held in joint tenancy is
not part of the decedent's estate and is not subject to probate.
Because of misunderstandings about the nature of joint tenancy,
individuals frequently try to leave joint tenancy property to someone
else in their will. Such will provisions have no effect: the
property still goes to the surviving joint tenants."
AARP Estates Self-Help Guide
Support for Widows and Widowers
The statutory basis for this is set forth in the California Probate Code:
5130. "Joint account" means an account payable on request to one or
more of two or more parties whether or not mention is made of any
right of survivorship.
5136. (b) A P.O.D. payee is a party, by reason of being a P.O.D. payee,
only after the account becomes payable to the payee by reason of
surviving all persons named as original payees.
5139. "P.O.D." means pay on death.
5203. (a) Words in substantially the following form in a signature
card, passbook, contract, or instrument evidencing an account, or
words to the same effect, executed before, on, or after July 1, 1990,
create the following accounts:
(1) Joint account: "This account or certificate is owned by the
named parties. Upon the death of any of them, ownership passes to
5302. Subject to Section 5600:
(a) Sums remaining on deposit at the death of a party to a joint
account belong to the surviving party or parties as against the
estate of the decedent unless there is clear and convincing evidence
of a different intent.
(b) If the account is a P.O.D. account:
(1) On death of one of two or more parties, the rights to any sums
remaining on deposit are governed by subdivision (a).
(2) On death of the sole party or of the survivor of two or more
parties, (A) any sums remaining on deposit belong to the P.O.D. payee
or payees if surviving, or to the survivor of them if one or more
die before the party, (B) if two or more P.O.D. payees survive, any
sums remaining on deposit belong to them in equal and undivided
shares unless the terms of the account or deposit agreement expressly
provide for different shares, and (C) if two or more P.O.D. payees
survive, there is no right of survivorship in the event of death of a
P.O.D. payee thereafter unless the terms of the account or deposit
agreement expressly provide for survivorship between them.
5303. (a) The provisions of Section 5302 as to rights of
survivorship are determined by the form of the account at the death
of a party.
California Probate Code
[There's nothing in Section 5600 that changes the result]
So it would seem that if the bank where the account exists uses the
standard term on your joint account [either on the passbook or in the
bank's rules and regulations, which you might want to obtain], "This
account or certificate is owned by the named parties. Upon the death
of any of them, ownership passes to
the survivor(s)." from section 5203,
or even if your account doesn't use that term, then in the absence of
"clear and convincing evidence of a different intent" per section
5202, you won't have any problem.
Search terms used:
california spouse intestacy joint survivor "community property" account
california statutes 5132 joint
Thanks again for letting use help.
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