Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) Section 873.660 – Sale of Perishable Property and Security

Code of Civil Procedure 873.660 outlines notice procedures when the property being sold is perishable by virtue of its depreciation in value over time. This statute is important because it allows the court to set quick sales procedures to avoid sharp decreases in the price of a jointly held asset, such as stocks that the parties may own in a joint account.

Code of Civil Procedure section 873.660 states:

  1. (a) The Court may order securities listed on an established stock or bond exchange, and personal property that is perishable, that will depreciate in value if not promptly disposed of, or that will incur loss or expense by being kept, to be sold upon such notice and conditions as may be appropriate.
  2. (b) Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, title to property sold pursuant to this section passes without court confirmation. The referee is responsible for the actual value of the property until, after return and proper showing, the court approves the sale.

(Amended by Stats. 1976, c. 73, p. 110, § 6.)

What is an example?

“Shawn” and “Julie” are an unmarried couple who want to start a life together. They purchase a home together, and also start a joint brokerage account to hold several lucrative securities.

Unfortunately, Shawn and Julie’s relationship doesn’t work out, and they break up. They cannot agree on what to do with the property. Shawn wants to sell all the property and move on with his life, so he sues for partition by sale.

By the time the Court determines that all the couple’s property is to be sold, their joint portfolio is in shambles. If the assets in the account are not sold quickly, they stand to lose significant value.

As such, the court orders that the assets in the account are to be sold once they hit a minimum value agreed to by the parties, even though such a sale would occur on short notice.

Law Revision Commission Comments (CCP § 873.660)

1976 Addition

Section 873.660 is new; it is derived from Probate Code Sections 770 and 771. The provisions of Section 873.660 apply notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter governing sales.

Assembly Committee Comments

As is the case with nearly every partition statute, section 873.660 does not include an “official” Assembly Committee Comment from the California Legislature. But this is due in part to the Legislature’s overall endorsement and adoption of the Law Revision Commission suggestions when it passed the new partition statutes in 1976.

In fact, the introduction to Assembly Bill 1671 (the bill that contained the new partition laws) states that the Revision Commission’s recommendations “reflect the intent of the Assembly Committee… in approving the various provisions of Assembly Bill 1671.” This demonstrates that the intent of the Legislature was substantially in line with that of the Revision Commission.

As to the comment here, it references Probate Codes sections 770 and 771. These were both repealed in 1987, but replaced with various provisions relating to sales in Probate Codes section 10252, and 10259.

These statutes fall under the Probate Code’s notice of sale statutes governing how and when estate representatives sell personal property of the estate. (Prob. Code § 10250.) Section 10252 essentially provides that where an estate asset is perishable, the personal representative may sell that asset without notice to the parties, provided the court gives approval.

Unfortunately, these provisions provide little in terms of guidance as to how they might apply in a partition action. In probate matters, the personal representative is required to exercise the power of no-notice sales with ordinary care and diligence. (Prob. Code § 10200.)

But in partitions, it’s unclear as to whether these short or no-notice sales are to be petitioned by a partition referee, or the parties themselves, and at what stage in the litigation the request may be submitted.

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Here at Underwood Law Firm, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help navigate the complex web of case law and statutes surrounding partitions. If you are thinking of filing a partition, are already in the midst of a partition suit, or just have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.

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