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. If there is a will, probate will validate the will and appoint the personal representative. When a person dies without a will (intestate), his property also goes through the probate process. 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 finally funds will be 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 the will fails to name or designate an Executor. An executor (male) executrix (female) has been named in the decedent’s will. A personal representative is the executor or administrator for 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 honesty or the beneficiaries will be compensated for any money lost. Generally, a probate bond is required anytime there is not a valid will in place at the time of death.
How is probate paperwork different from a traditional real estate transaction?
In most real estate transactions, the seller is required to disclose information about the property, such as known defects and un-permitted improvements. Often the probate administrator or executor has not lived in the home and if they have, its 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 determine 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. In order 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 which 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 Representative for the Estate and has 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 sale of the real estate must be confirmed by the court. Court confirmation might also be required if there is an objection from an heir or beneficiary. At no additional cost, Harb & Co. will appear in court as your representative.
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 a Notice of Proposed Action to the heirs. The heirs have fifteen days to object. Assuming there is no objection the sale moves forward without a court hearing.
How will court confirmation impact the marketing of the 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 required, escrow will be opened as with any sale. The buyer will apply for their loan, pay for the appraisal and an inspection.
After the buyer has removed all of their contingencies the purchase now needs to be confirmed by Los Angeles probate court. 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 now need to start over in their quest for the ideal property.
What if I am not up to the task?
If you are unable to fulfill your responsibilities as the administrator of a probate sale, you can hire a professional fiduciary. They will be paid to oversee these responsibilities on behalf of the estate.
How will Harb & Co. help?
After a careful analysis we will determine the likely selling price of the property. 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 coordinate, and 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 addition charge. The Harb & Co. team will complete all documents required to complete the sale.
Marketing plans are customized and always include professional photography. We have an itemized checklist for our weekly visit to our vacant listings. We will update you on a weekly basis and when needed more frequently. To minimize your legal fees, we will communicate with the attorney only when necessary.