In December of last year, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, the charismatic DJ and dancer who rose to fame on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and the Ellen Degeneres Show tragically passed away. In addition to his role as an actor, host, and television producer, 40 year old Boss shared 3 kids with wife Allison Holker Boss.
According to Allison, tWitch died without a will or trust. For married couples in California who own everything jointly, a lack of estate planning may not be an issue. But when one spouse holds assets individually, Court action may be necessary.
On February 8th, 2023, Hollker Boss filed a Spousal Property Petition in the Los Angeles County Probate Court, which confirmed that tWitch did in fact have significant assets that he held an individual ownership in.
What is a Spousal Property Petition?
A Spousal Property Petition is essentially a court document that requests confirmation of asset ownership as 50% community property of the surviving spouse, and 50% community property of the decedent – and the subsequent transfer of the decedent’s 50% share to the surviving spouse. Put simply: 100% ownership of an asset to the surviving spouse. And – while its not applicable in Boss’s case, Spousal Property Petitions can also transfer Separate Property assets.
In California Probate Courts, Spousal Property Petitions are used in place of a formal Probate to transfer community property assets to a surviving spouse. The Court proceeding for a Spousal Property Petition is significantly shorter and less expensive than a formal probate. Keep in mind that if a couple has a trust in place, it is very unlikely that a Spousal Property Petition (or Probate) would be necessary. Unfortunately, like many relatively young couples in California, the Boss’s had yet to put together a Trust.
So what assets is Allison Boss seeking ownership of?
According to her Petition, Allison is seeking transfer of tWitch’s interest in:
- Stephen Boss Productions (which owns at least 2 properties in the LA area)
- A Goldman Sachs investment account
- Royalties from: Cast and Crew Production Services, Disney Worldwide Services, Inc., GEP Talent Services, LLC, and SAG/AFTRA
Allison stated in her Petition that all of the assets she is requesting ownership of are in fact community property assets – i.e. all earned during the course of the marriage.
You may be wondering – Why are the rest of tWitch’s not included in the Petition?
As you can probably guess, a celebrity of tWitch’s stature owns much more than just one investment account and his businesses. (Perhaps the word “just” is misused there when the businesses and his account are probably many millions)
Nevertheless, a quick online search shows that he also owned a 5 bedroom house in Encino, California, and there’s no doubt he also must have owned bank accounts and vehicles as well.
Here’s the difference – the assets included in the Spousal Property Petition are held individually by tWitch – i.e. not held jointly with his wife, and they had no transfer on death beneficiary. There’s a few different ways assets can have “individual” as opposed to “joint” ownership – but the most common would be a bank account or a property titled only in one spouse’s name.
In Allison and tWitch’s case, the home they share in Encino is held in joint tenancy, meaning when one of them dies, the other one assumes ownership. Any bank accounts that are held jointly also work the same way.
Now, most surviving spouses won’t have extensive business interests or future royalties they are seeking ownership of.
We currently have a number of Spousal Property Petitions we’re assisting with in San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa County – and each of them are seeking transfer of bank accounts or real property that were held solely by the surviving spouse.
Our hearts go out to Stephen Boss’s wife Allison and his entire family. He is someone who will be greatly missed by not only his close friends and family, but also his wide and (very) enthusiastic fan base.