Dear Reader, it is with my sincere condolences that you find yourself reading this special report as you mourn for a loved one who has passed on. This post does not constitute legal advice and you should seek legal advice from legal professionals. The purpose of this post is to provide clarity about the California Probate process if the property owned by your loved one is subject to it.
What is Probate?
The California probate process is nothing more than a title-clearing procedure. The court appoints a person to be in charge of the estate, known as the personal representative.
Who can be the Personal Representative?
If there is a will naming someone as the personal representative, that person will be appointed as the estate Executor. If there is no will, then the priority of who can serve as the estate Administrator is as follows: surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, then any other relative. A Realtor could also be appointed as the personal representative if nominated by the heirs. A personal representative can have either full or limited authority. Full authority means that the representative can sell the house without court confirmation; limited authority means that the sale must go through the court confirmation process.
First Step: Is Probate Necessary?
The first thing we need to analyze when a homeowner has died is the current grant deed. If the person on the title has passed--welcome to probate. If the property is titled to a trust, then you will not need probate.
The next step is to get a copy of the trust and the person who is named as the successor trustee is the person who implements the wishes of the deceased as outlined in the trust which can include bequeathing assets or selling them. If the property is to be sold, it is advisable that you work with a Professional Real Estate Sales Person like myself with a large network of vendors who can help you get the home ready for sale so you and the beneficiaries net the most money.
If the deceased person has left a will, you will still need probate which will last 10-12 months. In Latin, "Probate" means "to prove a will". Selling a home through the probate process adds a little more complexity to a traditional sale which I can guide you through.
What is a Probate Appraisal?
Probate cases require a valuation of the real property by a court-appointed appraiser called the probate referee. The probate referee only does a quick drive-by of the property and pulls comparables from the date of death to value the property. As a rule of thumb, if you are aware any major damages to the property, take photos of the damages to give to the probate referee so the property could be valued accordingly.
Closing a Probate Sale: Full Authority
If your personal representative has full authority, then there are just three documents you will need to close your probate sale: 1) the Original Certified copy of the Letters; 2) the Order for Probate, and 3) the Notice of Proposed Action. Without these documents, you will not be able to close escrow.
Closing a Probate Sale: Limited Authority
If your personal representative has limited authority I recommend that you talk to the attorney to understand exactly why limited authority was assigned instead of full authority. Limited authority probates adds more complexity and cost to the process. Your personal representative must first publish the intent to sell the real property in a local newspaper. If there is an accepted offer, the purchase price must be within 90% of the appraised value given by the probate referee. Once accepted, the sale must be confirmed by the court. At the hearing, the sale is subject to overbidding by others.
==> Please click here to see a diagram of the Probate Process
How we can help
You can hire us without any out-of-pocket expenditure and before court confirmation to assist with various tasks attorneys are not involved in, such as:
- Helping you make sure the property is secure by having the locks changed, visiting it once a week, and even having cameras installed so you can have direct visibility.
- Helping you coordinate the disposal of furniture and personal belongings that the family does not want to keep.
- Helping you facilitate an Estate Sale via our partnerships to raise money from what can be sold. Helping you complete Yard / Pool work to keep the home presentable.
- Helping you get Vacant Home Insurance, since if the home is vacant for too long, the insurance company may not cover it as expected should something happen.
- Helping you obtain Rehab estimates to fix the home to sell retail and in some cases, contractors can be paid at closing so you are not putting money out upfront.
- Helping you via an attorney to evict squatters or tenants based on California's complicated renter laws
- Helping you sell in “AS IS – WHERE IS” to a Cash investor that can close as soon as the court confirms you as the Personal Representative. Our marketplace of institutional buyers are ready to bid on your property to help you get the most money for you and the family without you doing a single thing.
- Helping you buy the property yourself especially if a loan is involved and the bank is not willing to let you assume the loan - new financing might be needed and we can help you with this. This way the probate can be completed and old debts can be paid off
For us, it starts with understanding the family’s goals and then offering you some options to choose from on your time schedule. Once you are confirmed as the Personal Representative, we can move forward quickly to not lose time which will only cost you more money in holding costs and mental energy and grief.