The Judge of the Santa Clara County Probate Court announced the court will begin to hear all case types on Monday through Thursday. What does this mean for probate real estate?
This means initial Administration of Estate Petitions are now being heard on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings.
Conservatorships are heard on Tuesday afternoon.
There are no hearings on Fridays at this time.
The impact of COVID-19 on probate real estate in Santa Clara County continues to frustrate people who are waiting in line for their case to be heard.
Santa Clara County Probate Court Backlog
Patience is the name of the game as the Court ramps back up again. Prior to COVID-19 hearing dates were being set 2.5 – 3 months out. As of today, hearings for new probate petitions to administer estates are being set in November 2020.
No doubt this has caused and will continue to cause hardship on many estates. In addition to the delays in hearing dates, Executors and Administrators incur the additional expense of sending notices of the new continued hearing date and they must incur the additional expense of republishing the notice if a publication was required.
Hearings will proceed via Court Call. The Court expects to add the capability for video in late Summer 2020. The listen-only access line for the public is available for all proceedings.
If it becomes necessary for a person to go to the courthouse they are expected to follow the court protocols to wear face coverings and social distancing.
While it is good news the probate court is ramping back up and hearing cases, many probate attorneys and their clients find the backlog and delays unacceptable. Yet the back-log in part is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in Shelter-in-Place Order, and Court lockdown following the riots.
The probate court’s staff, for the most part, continued to work remotely to get where we are today. The staff is now back in court onsite as essential workers and continue to work in preparing the court calendars and answering questions.
Probate Real Estate Delayed Due to COVID-19
We were recently hired by the Administrator of an estate to list a home in San Jose. He was referred to us by his probate attorney who initially contacted me to ask if we could help her client as they wanted an agent who knows probate. The attorney’s chief complaints were that the agents her clients had been hiring did not know what they were doing and they refused to listen to her. The attorney added that her client needs someone with a compassionate hand. We assured the attorney we have a compassionate hand and a compassionate heart.
This client’s case was filed in February and due to COVID-19 and the court’s closure, the case was continued twice and finally heard on June 16, 2020, in an adjacent county. Each time the case was continued a new notice had to be mailed and published.
The client is happy to finally be moving forward so that they can get the home sold.
The impact of COVID-19 on probate real estate is genuinely affecting the ability of an executor to sell a house. Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration must be issued by the court. Letters are what empowers the representative to act on behalf of the estate.
It is a good idea to interview real estate agents in advance so that when the Santa Clara County probate court approves the petition for probate and issues the Order and Letters, no more time will be wasted. The estate representative will be ready to hire the probate real estate agent without further delay.