If you've come to this page it's likely that you are already involved with a property that's going through Probate, or expect to be soon. Here are some insights that answer many of the questions sellers and buyers have about probate real estate transactions. This information refers toCalifornia probate procedures and is only intended as an overview. Consult an appropriate professional before making any decisions.
Why Probate?When a person dies their estate is processed through the Probate Court, with some exceptions. A property that is contained in a revocable living trust is one. Some other forms of vesting that include right of survivorship can also avoid probate. Consult a Probate attorney for your specific situation.
Otherwise the court oversees distribution of assets among heirs and creditors. This includes distribution or sale of real estate (“real property”) and any other belongings (“personal property”) such as furniture, jewelry, household goods, cars, etc.
If there is a Will a Personal Representative for the estate (PR) will be named as Executor. If there is no Will a PR will be named as Administrator. Their duties are very similar.
Probate Attorney - Usually the PR works together with a Probate Attorney who is paid a set fee. The PR may choose to act as his own attorney, referred to as “In Pro Per”. That’s a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a complicated process, and the impact of some decisions might be significant.
Authority - Sometimes the court grants full authority to the PR, which means he can make many decisions without a review by the court. Sometimes authority is Limited, in which case the sale of real estate must be confirmed in a court hearing. At that hearing other buyers may make bids over the agreed upon purchase price. In general, probates that require court hearings take longer and may be less attractive to buyers who might face losing the purchase weeks into the process.
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