Probate Realtor, Kathleen Daniels serves Santa Clara County. A Probate Realtor is also known as a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist (CPRES). Kathleen has worked full-time in real estate since January 2003. She has seen and heard things that make her head spin.
Probate Realtor | Self-Appointed “Experts”
Beware of self-appointed Probate Realtor “experts” who do not have training and experience. There are far too many self-appointed gurus and experts. Do your homework and vetting.
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!
Probate Realtor | Call From a Concerned Heir
We received a call from a sibling of the executor of their mother’s estate. The sibling was concerned that the brother hired a friend to sell the family home. The caller wanted to hire us. We explained that they need the authority to hire a real estate agent to list a home in probate. That authority comes from the court in the form of Letters of Administration if the person died without a will or Letters Testamentary if they died with a will.
The person explained that as far as they knew, the petition for probate had not yet been filed. Our online search did not show a petition had been filed. We know there is a backlog in filings with the Santa Clara County Probate Court. It could be the papers were submitted and not yet processed. It can take up to 30 days or more from when the documents are e-filed, processed, and a hearing date is set.
The caller went on to tell us that the Realtor friend the brother hired had listed the house and asked, can he do that?
The short answer is we are not attorneys, cannot answer questions legal in nature, and cannot give legal advice. As stated above, as an experienced Probate Realtor, we know that the Petition for Probate must be filed, and at the hearing, the Order for Probate is granted and Letters are issued by the Judge of the Probate Court.
From our years of training and experience providing probate real estate services, we know the Executor or Administrator, also referred to as the personal representative, can hire whoever they want, provided the real estate agent is licensed and in good standing. After all, a personal representative of an estate, probate, or trust estate, has a fiduciary duty to act with a high standard of care and exercise prudence in all that they do. At a bare minimum, verifying the California Department of Real Estate License Status is a good place to start.
Real estate professionals also have fiduciary duties we must uphold. Among our best practices at NeedProbateHelp is to check the licensing status of all real estate agents who present offers on your listings. You would be surprised what we find!
We often get asked: Does the real estate agent have to be an experienced probate realtor to list an estate home?
Other than meeting the fiduciary duty of exercising a high standard of care, there isn’t a law, per se that mandates hiring a probate realtor to list an estate property. Hiring just any real estate agent with zero probate realtor training and experience is what could get an executor or estate representative in trouble.
We ask, why would anyone hire a real estate agent without training and experience with probate or trust sales? This is serious business.
Is it a case of not knowing what they don’t know? Either way, ignorance is not the best defense.
In most cases, real property is the largest estate asset. Hiring just anyone to manage the sale without first vetting and verifying their knowledge and experience with probate real estate and/or trust real property sales leans away from exercising a high standard of care.
Hiring a friend or any real estate agent that takes a listing should first examine the Preliminary Title Report to (1) confirm the name of the person(s) on the title and (2) know that if it is a probate or trust estate, that there are steps that must be taken before the property can be sold.
Not doing so or not knowing may be perceived as ignorance. Yet, that is a roll of the dice if ever required to meet the duty of exercising prudence and acting with a high standard of care. We discuss the steps that must be taken before an estate property can be sold in more detail below.
Think about the risk and liability of hiring an untrained and inexperienced Probate Realtor. What people do not understand is that if the personal representative is acting irresponsibly, an heir to the estate may file an action to have the court remove their authority and appoint someone else.
Welcome to the land of probate and trust litigation. This is another highly specialized area of law. Not all probate and trust attorneys work in litigation. That does not mean that some attorneys will not agree to take the case. Unlike probate where attorneys are paid statutory fees, litigation cases typically require a signed fee agreement that most likely requires a sizeable retainer fee.
Win or lose, the case in litigation the attorney still gets paid. No one likes writing those checks. Attorneys are expensive. Some of the hourly rates for top Santa Clara County attorneys reach upwards of $700.00 an hour. Just like with hiring a real estate agent estate representatives need to be vetting an attorney before hiring them.
We have worked with clients who hired probate attorneys that were not getting their job done. They were not responding to phone calls and emails or keeping the lines of communication open. The clients did not know the status of their case. This caused a sibling and heir to the estate to hire an attorney to have our client removed as executor. That caused our client to fire their attorney and hire an attorney who would substitute in and take over as attorney for the estate.
In that case, the same day the new attorney substituted in the case, they called the sibling’s attorney and informed them that one of the homes had already been sold. The sibling’s attorney was gobsmacked. Thrilled and elated that our client, the executor of the estate was in fact doing their job. It was a case of the attorney’s failure to communicate to anyone. We later understood our client’s first probate attorney had left the country for two weeks and did not have anyone minding the business while they were gone.
Shocking news flash, there are real estate agents, doctors, plumbers, electricians, and many other professionals who do the same thing.
Probate Realtor – Santa Clara County
Does Kathleen Daniels have the answer to everything? Of course not. However, with her years of experience in probate real estate combined with many years of experience as a probate paralegal, we have 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
While Kathleen’s focus as a Probate Realtor is helping an executor or other estate representative in Santa Clara County, we have successfully helped people by referring them to an experienced agent in the area of need. If we cannot help you directly we will do our best to resource someone who can.