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Frequently Asked Questions

What is probate?

Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. The probate proceeding involves “proving the will” (if there is a will), appointing the personal representative, determining the decedent’s assets that are subject to probate, paying outstanding debts and disbursing funds to the beneficiaries. In some cases, the decedent’s estate includes real property that must be sold under the court’s supervision.

Why do some probate properties not require court confirmation?

If a probate property is a Trust Sale or if the Executor/Administrator of the estate has been granted “full independent powers” under the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), the sale may not require court confirmation. If the Administrator has full independent powers, he or she may elect to list the property for sale. Once an offer is accepted, the estate’s attorney mails out a Notice of Proposed Action stating the terms of the proposed sale to all the heirs. The heirs then have 15 days to object to the sale. If there is no objection within 15 days, the sale goes through without any court hearing required. (Regardless of the details of the probate transaction, sellers are strongly encouraged to work with a professional probate attorney to protect the estate’s best interests.)

What is a property profile?

A Property Profile is a report that provides details on a specific property. It contains information such as square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, zoning information, use code, tax information and ownership information. Additionally the profile has the recorded documents, such as the grant deed, quitclaim deed and copies of deeds of trust. The report can also contain sales comparables, school information and neighborhood information. A complete, current property profile is essential for setting the price of the real property and for determining problems that may interfere with the sale.

What do I need to do to prepare the property for sale?

We are able to recommend a number of qualified specialists to help you prepare the property for sale, including removing belongings and obtaining professional cleaning. We can also assist you in conducting an inventory of the real property for sale and in preparing a comprehensive property profile.

How do I come up with the best listing price?

We can provide you with detailed market data, called a Market Value Analysis. This includes the selling prices of similar properties in the neighboring area. It will also include in-depth information on recent sales in the area, such as price per square foot and the number of days the property was on the market. Taking into consideration the information in the analysis as well as other intangibles of the market, We will be able to help you determine a listing price that is appropriate for the market and will attract the greatest number of qualified buyers.

Once I list the property, how will it be marketed?

We will pursue a number of strategies to expose your property to likely buyers. They include signage on the property, newspaper and internet advertising, direct mail, open houses for agents and the public and personal networking among successful agents who may represent qualified buyers. We will conduct showings for interested buyers and their agents, will answer questions about the property and will continue to promote the property in order to secure the highest offer. We’ve also found it helpful to communicate with neighbors in the immediate area, keeping them informed about the price and other details about the property. Ask me for a written marketing plan and for explanations of how various types of marketing will benefit the sale.

Do I have to pay for all of these marketing and advertising costs?

Absolutely not. There will be no advertising or marketing up-front fees.

Is the paperwork different with a probate sale versus a traditional sale?

Yes. In most real estate transactions, the seller is required to disclose information about the property, including defects, construction conducted without a permit, evidence of pest or water damage, etc. Because sellers of real property through probate, trust or conservatorship may never have lived in the property that’s being sold, special disclosure forms take this into account. Probate and trust sales require special disclosures, listing agreements and purchase contracts. In California, the California Association of Realtors has standardized forms specifically for probate transactions, and we are well versed in the paperwork required.