Handling probate is time-consuming and complex. To help you with the process, Harb and Co. have compiled these Los Angeles Probate Questions and Answers:
What is probate?
Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent’s Estate. The probate will validate the will and appoint a personal representative if there is a will. When a person dies without a will (intestate), his property also goes through probate. The property is distributed to the heirs as determined by law (intestate succession).
The probate process determines which of the decedent’s assets are subject to probate. Outstanding bills will be paid, and funds disbursed to the beneficiaries. In many instances, the decedent’s Estate includes real property which will be sold under the supervision of the Los Angeles probate court.
What’s the difference between an Executor and an Administrator?
An administrator (male) or administratrix (female) is the person who will be appointed by Los Angeles County Probate Court to complete the administration process in those instances where there is either no will or where there is a will, but it fails to name or designate an Executor. An executor (male) or executrix (female) has been named in the decedent’s will. A personal representative is an executor or Administrator of the Estate of a deceased person.
What is a probate bond?
A probate bond (aka fiduciary bond) ensures that the wishes of the deceased are carried out ethically. The bond guarantees you will act honestly, or the beneficiaries will be compensated for any money lost. Generally, a probate bond is required anytime there is no valid will at the time of death.
How is probate paperwork different from a traditional real estate transaction?
In most real estate transactions, the seller must disclose information about the property, such as known defects and unpermitted improvements. Often the probate administrator or executor has not lived in the home, and if they have, it’s typically many years ago. The seller-required disclosures in a probate sale are minimal. The purchase agreement and listing agreement are also specialized.
What is a Probate Referee?
The Probate Referee is an Officer of the Court appointed by the California State Controller. The probate referee is a real estate appraiser who determines the value of the Estate’s real and personal property.
Can I use the same Realtor who assisted me with my home?
As the personal representative, you are to act in the best interest of the decedent’s estates. You will need to follow California probate laws. To avoid costly errors that could result in delays, it’s best to hire a Realtor experienced with Los Angeles probate sales. There are specific forms created by the California Association of Realtors that are only used in probate sales. Although you can hire any Realtor you desire, keep in mind that Los Angeles probate sales are complex. The more involved your attorney is in overlooking your Realtor’s preparation of the contract and disclosures, the higher the legal fees.
When can I list my probate property with a Realtor?
Once the court has named the Estate Representative and issued the Letters of Administration, the property can be listed with a Realtor.
Why do some probate properties require court confirmation?
When the representative has posted a smaller bond, they have limited authority. In this instance, the court must confirm the sale of real Estate. Court confirmation might also be required if there is an objection from an heir or beneficiary. Harb & Co. will appear in court as your representative at no additional cost.
When the Administrator has been granted “full independent powers,” the sale will usually not require court confirmation. Once an offer is accepted, the probate attorney mails the heirs a Notice of Proposed Action. The heirs have fifteen days to object. Assuming no objection, the sale moves forward without a court hearing.
How will court confirmation impact the marketing of real Estate?
Depending on the strength of the current Los Angeles real estate market, a buyer’s agent will often avoid showing real Estate, which requires court confirmation. When court confirmation is required, there is a likelihood that the buyer will not complete the sale at the agreed-upon price. When needed, escrow will be opened as with any sale. The buyer will apply for a loan and pay for the appraisal and an inspection.
After the buyer has removed all their contingencies, the Los Angeles probate court must confirm the purchase. At this hearing, the property is basically put up for auction. Any other buyer with a higher bid can outbid the original offer and close escrow. In this instance, the original buyer has wasted both time and money. They and their Realtor need to start over in their quest for the ideal property.
What if I am not up to the task?
If you cannot fulfill your responsibilities as the Administrator of a probate sale, you can hire a professional fiduciary. They receive payment for overseeing these responsibilities on behalf of the Estate.
How will Harb & Co. help?
After careful analysis, we will determine the property’s likely selling price. We will provide you with AS IS versus AS REPAIRED values. Harb & Co. will suggest minimal improvements and, if desired, obtain bids for these repairs. Our Team will supervise various tradespeople, such as professional home cleaners, landscapers, haulers, etc. Typically, most of these vendors can be paid through your escrow proceeds at no additional charge. The Harb & Co. team will complete all documents required for the sale.
Clients receive customized marketing plans that always include professional photography. We have an itemized checklist for our weekly visit to our vacant listings. We will update you every week and, when needed, more frequently. To minimize your legal fees, we will communicate with the attorney only when necessary.