Although no one likes to think about what will happen after they pass away, it is something we all need to consider, as well as what will happen to our assets.  For most of us, our home is our most valuable asset, and it is therefore often the first thing added to a will, and frequently it is “given” to the heirs, to be divided up equally.  But how do you divide up a house?  The most obvious answer is to sell the house and divide the proceeds.  Simple, right?  Not so simple.

Unless the will specifically states that the real property is to be sold and by whom, the sale will have to go through probate court. This can be lengthy and difficult, but still doable.  Regardless, all beneficiaries must be informed of the sale of the property, and the price at which it will be listed. Once an offer has been accepted, if all the beneficiaries agree to the sale in writing, the sale may proceed without a court hearing.  If, however, there is an objection by one or more beneficiaries, the sale will need to be confirmed by a confirmation hearing, and the buyer could be “outbid” by another interested party.

Furthermore, the property must be professionally appraised before it can be sold, and in
California the final sale price must be at least 90% of the appraised value.  Since the estate must continue to make payments on any mortgages, property taxes, and insurance on the property, it can get expensive for the property to remain unsold for very long.

Selling a property during probate can be long and complicated, as well as potentially risky.  Hire both an estate attorney and a licensed Realtor to minimize the risk.  Of course, much of this can be avoided by setting up a trust, and an estate planning attorney can help with that, too.

If you or someone you know has recently lost a loved one, please call me, and I will gladly help you find a good estate attorney to help you through this difficult process.  And if there is real estate to be sold, I can help with that, too!

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