Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist Kathleen Daniels explains why it is important for an executor, administrator, and/or successor trustee, also referred to as an estate representative or personal representative of an estate to exercise prudence in who they hire to sell a home.
What Questions to Ask a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist?
From the many calls we receive each week, estate representatives do not understand the importance of hiring a trained and experienced Probate Real Estate Specialist.
In probate and trust estates, most people don’t know what questions to ask. This is not an issue if they hire an experienced CPRES, often referred to as a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist who does know what questions to ask!
Beware of self-appointed “probate agents” that do not have training and experience. There are far too many self-appointed gurus and experts. Do your homework and vet them out! Ask questions. Ask for credentials and certifications. Ask for testimonials or past client recommendations.
Years ago, one executor asked all interested agents to provide a copy of their credentials with their proposal. Of the 13 agents that claimed to be probate specialists, only 6 agents did. Of the six, the executor narrowed the candidates down to three. We were selected to list the Probate Home at 3696 Rocky Creek Ct. San Jose CA 95148.
When we asked the executor why, the response was: (1) overall professionalism (2) knowledge in the response to the request for proposal, and (3) you are a local agent. In all the years of listing probate homes, this was the first and only executor, who was also an executive in Santa Clara County, that employed a hiring strategy and interview process. Hats off to that person!
98% of our probate and successor trustee clients are in their role for the very first time and freely admit, “I do not know what I am doing.”
As far as probate real estate services are concerned, we do!
There are no “stupid” questions as far as we are concerned. It is the questions we do not ask that can come back and bite us in the backside. We never Ass-u-me anything.
There is so much more to selling a home than putting a sign in the yard and opening doors for people. When listing a probate home or working with a successor trustee to sell trust real property, there is a lot more a real estate agent needs to know. There are steps an agent should take upfront to ensure a smooth transaction. Key factors are confirming who has the authority to sell estate property and a careful examination of the Preliminary Title Report.
Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist | Authority to Sell
We received a call from a sibling who was concerned that her brother acting as the personal representative for the estate was going to hire their friend to list the two homes. The sibling calling wanted to hire us. Some people understand the importance of hiring someone who specializes in probate real estate, has the experience, knows, and understands the probate process. We are seeing a trend that the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate know the importance, yet the people named in the Will to be the executor seemingly do not know the importance, or do not care. This concerns the heirs enough to call us, yet we can only help if the person with the authority to hire us, consults with us, and decides to hire us.
The person who called us did not know if probate had been filed. We did some research to see if the petition for probate had been filed. It had not. We also researched who was on title to the two homes. Our initial research of the deeds we pulled from online resources revealed information that left us asking questions, among them, the joint tenancy was severed 10 years prior to recording the Affidavit – Death of Joint Tenant so what are we missing here?
We asked our trusted title and escrow company to determine the chain of title. The Chief Title Officer advised us that a Spousal Order dated May 2005, which conveyed one party’s interest to another, was the missing piece of the puzzle. The court confirmed the real property that belonged to the surviving spouse under Family Code section 297.5 and Probate Code sections 100 and 101, and the surviving spouse’s ownership upon the decedent’s death.
What this boiled down to is the two people on the title each holds ½ interest. Since both are now deceased both estates will need to go through probate.
This is a classic case of why a probate realtor examines the preliminary title report and understands it! We must verify the chain of title is clear. If there are any issues that need to be dealt with they need to be taken care of upfront. Not getting title issues cleared upfront could result in delays in closing escrow on the sale of a home. In this example, the need to probate the estate of the second person could mean a delay of 6 months or more!
It could also mean the home gets listed, is sold to a buyer, and they learn through the escrow process that they cannot close because the second estate must also go through probate.
Confirming Authority to Sell a Probate Home
Before Kathleen Daniels, Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist accepts an offer to list a probate home for sale, we confirm the person has authority from the court to act on behalf of the estate. Letters Testamentary are issued to an estate representative when a person dies with a Will and the person who petitions the court for probate is the person named in the Will.
Letters of Administration are issued when a person dies without a Will. The Letters are issued to the person who petitions the court for probate. Letters Testamentary are needed before signing a listing agreement. Without Letters, a person does not have the authority from the court to act on behalf of the estate.
With probate, we need a certified copy of the Letters and a certified copy of the death certificate. Both must be certified copies. They cannot be copies of a certified copy. They must be original certified copies. The documents are delivered to the title company which updates the title to the property to reflect the representative of the estate is selling the home.
Confirming Authority to Sell a Home with Title Held in a Trust
If it is a successor trustee hiring us, we ask if an Affidavit – Death of Trustee has been recorded. In most cases, the representative does not even know what that is. Not to worry. We know what it is, and we know what needs to be done and we take care of it. We just need our clients to provide us with the documents.
In the case of a trust, we need a certified copy of the death certificate and a certification of trust. If there is not a certificate of trust, we need the section of the original trust that shows the name of the successor trustee. We personally deliver all original documents to the title company. The title is then updated to reflect that the successor trustee of the living or family trust is selling the home.
We do not enter into a listing agreement with a personal representative of an estate before we confirm they have the authority to hire us. Some probate clients consult with us before they have court authority. They know they want us to represent them in the sale of a home. Yet, we tell them, once you get the Letters, let us know.
Getting these documents can take time. Most people already have certified copies of the death certificate.
It can take months for a Santa Clara County Probate Court hearing for a petition for probate, an Order for probate, and Letters issued.
Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist
Is Kathleen Daniels the direct answer to everything – the know-all and end-all of all things probate? With her years of experience in probate real estate combined with many years of experience as a probate paralegal, Kathleen has just about seen it all … until another unique situation presents itself. If we do not know the answers or how to appropriately manage a situation, we ask our legal resources. We will not ass-u-me anything.
More Reasons to Hire Probate Certified Agent Kathleen Daniels.
We continue to see the trend of the need to evict a family member living in an estate home that needs to be sold. While our focus as a Santa Clara County Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist is helping an executor or other estate representative we have successfully helped people by referring them to an experienced probate agent in the area of need. If we cannot help you directly we will do our best to find someone who can.